Saturday, December 22, 2007

Iz the great!!!

In the spirit of the Holiday.. I wanted to share one of my favorite singers and the song I love the most by him.. Victor Frankl talked about how in the concentration camp, when things were really tough, he would close his eyes and imagine he was somewhere else... I often use this song to deal with the stress of the moment. Hope you like it!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.

Victor Frankl

Monday, December 3, 2007

Money Drives Decisions

Further Evidence that money is driving sports more and more is found in the College Football Bowl Selections.. Here is but a couple of clear examples where leaders are choosing money over picking best the team:
  • Can you believe that Missouri, which is ranked 6th in the BCS rankings didn't go to a BCS bowl (there are 10 spots which count as BCS Bowl spots).. .but Illinois which is ranked way down at 13th did! This is just not right.. and what does it say about how far the Rose Bowl has fallen from being one of the greatest sporting events in college sports.
  • Money has even more impact when you look below the BCS bowl games. Clemson and Virginia, ranked 3rd and 4th respectably in the ACC, leaped over Boston College to take the more significant bowl bids. Why? Just cause Boston College fans don't travel like Clemson and Virginia fans. It is all about making money gang.
I am sure there are more examples. In what is quickly becoming more and more monetarily driven, college sports in the US continue the move away from the "spirit of the competition" and move closer to the "art of money." Need more evidence.. check out my post on the World Cup or my post on Ms. Jones. Is there any wonder that the kids graduating from these colleges grow up willing to do anything to make more money.. Enron was just the culmination of many acts of minor greed.. that grew into major greed. And it is all starting at our most visible symbol of college.

As for who is the best college football team this year, I doubt we will know at the end of this mess. For me, my choice will be simple if Hawaii wins.. Hawaii will at least be the only team without a loss. And their schedule will be close to as tough as OSU's.. Go Warriors!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Gen X vs. Gen Y - Hype

In an earlier post, I raised issues with Gen X and Gen Y stereotyping and taking the hype beyond what the data really says. I was happy today to see that the Society for Human Development has put out a publication on Generational Differences that goes even further than my warning. The publication, which is based on a seven year study by the Center for Creative Leadership, lays out the following on Gen Y:

  • Employees of different generations actually actually want a lot of the same things from their work.
  • Global demographics, education levels, living costs, economic issues, and labor market conditions may have the strongest influence on the way different generations view work.
  • Other findings.. regardless of age,
    • Resistance to change is more about what you stand to lose or gain.
    • Loyalty to the employer is more about your place in the company hierarchy than your age.
    • most employees seem to what security and a balance work and personal lives.
My hat is off to Jennifer Deal who is the study's lead author!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Is your work meaningful?

The need or drive to seek pleasure (Freud)

and the relentless pursuit of power (Adler)

were really just attempts to cover up,

but not necessarily fill, a

“void of meaning”

that existed in the lives of these individuals.

-Alex Pattakos on Viktor Frankl’s principle on the “search for meaning”

Thursday, November 22, 2007

1992 Olympics - Derek Redmond

In the spirit of thanksgiving here in the USA.. I want to give thanks for all that touch my life with love and leadership. I thought it would be nice today to share a video that reminds us all of how even when things are not so good.. we can reach forward and do great things... In one of the the greatest of Olympic moments, Derrick Redmond demonstrates what it means to be a champion!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

BIG QUESTION: Top Reasons People Consider Leaving Their Jobs?

If it is not succession planning.. it is retention that seems to be getting the most attention among HR and T&D experts these days. Leaders know that a huge workforce is retiring and that there will not be as many workers to replace them. Human capital may be more valuable than oil in 15 years....

A colleague of mine and I are working on some research related to retention. We know from previous research that most of us have thought about leaving our current job at least once or twice. Of course, we often do not act on these thoughts, but the thoughts themselves tell us something about retention.

You can help out a great deal by either responding to this blog with a comment, or sending me a private e-mail. Please feel free to respond to the blog in an anonymous post. It should not take you long to answer just one question.

The last time something happened that made you think your current job is not the one you want to be in... what was it that made you think about leaving that job?

Please share this post with as many people as you can.. I would love to get as many people as possible to respond.. If I get a good response, I hope to post a summary of the best of the posts and the most dominate themes..

Monday, November 12, 2007

CISCO Star Trek Show

I believe that we will see many new things in social networking in the next few years. Much of what we are doing now is the tip of the iceberg... Here is just one example of what I mean by tip of the iceberg. Innovation usually takes 20 years to mature and become viable, so take a look at the following CISCO presentation and then think of what this means:

CISCO's Chambers demonstrates the art of Telepresense

Imagine.. 20 years from know this may be the most common way of communicating. What is the implication of being able to project your telepresense to millions of homes or businesses or call someone halfway around the world for a nice evening chat. I am sure you can think of lots of ways this could be used. Will we end up with American Idol on Steroids? Will this technology enable leaders to network greater than ever before and communicate to their followers in more frequent and richer ways. Imagine what this one piece of technology might mean to the darkest side of humanity.. could it allow the leaders of countries like Israel and Palatine to work together for peace knowing that they can interact daily without security concerns. So here is the question for you.. If you were a leader today and hand this technology, what is the one way you would seek to use it for the highest return on your time in the telepresence chamber? Here is mine:

I would use it to enhance what are boring teleconferences we have. This technology would add richness to the conversations and also encourage everyone to be mentally present. Now it is your turn:

Gotta run.. I am scheduled for a holodeck session in 5.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Emotional Attachement = Customer Engagement

Hot off the presses.. Human Sigma is HOT.. A must read for anyone who is interested in customer or employee engagement. John Fleming lays out for us all a great model for evaluating our efforts at customer satisfaction that is logical and research based. I love it and plan to use it to complement my already robust customer service programs. The model lays out four levels of Emotional Attachment.. the kind of attachment that has been proven to positively impact the financial statement. The model looks at these four dimensions:
  • Confidence: What are you doing to create customer trust in your services? Would your customers say you always deliver on your spoken and unspoken promises?
  • Integrity: Do you treat your customers fairly? When something goes wrong, do you apologize for the problem? How fair are you in resolving the problem?
  • Pride: Do your customers have a positive sense of association and identification with you? Are they proud to be your customer? Does their association with you mean something to them personally? Does it define their own self-concept of who they are?
  • Passion: Would your customers consider life not worth living without you? Ok.. that is a bit much, but the concept is the same... Are you indispensable? Would they drive across town for you? How much passion do they have for you?
I will use a easy example to bring these home.. Think of the last time you flew somewhere on an airplane, where things didn't quite go as well as you hoped.. close your eyes and imagine yourself waiting to get on the flight...

Confidence: How sure were you that the flight would leave on time? Were you confident that you would get where you were going on-time and with your baggage?

Integrity: Now whatever went wrong has happened.. they have been delayed, or your bags are gone.. etc..Do you think they treated you fairly? Did they demonstrate respect for you?

Pride: After the flight.. did you go around bragging on how you traveled.. I mean, did you become a poster child for the airline?

Passion: Now suppose you are going to fly again next week.. how important is it for you to fly on this same airline.. if they can only offer you bad connections or cost more, would you still fly on them?

Most likely, you answered no to all of these questions. It is sad, but I think the deck is stacked against airlines. They don't help themselves much, but they have little chance of overcoming the confidence dimension. Some have risen above.. take Southwest.. you could argue that they do most of these well. I have run into a few Southwest Air Passion Freaks in my days.. Better examples might be Apple or Nordstroms.

There is another piece of this pie as well.. It also links up to employee engagement:
Confidence is about knowing what to expect.. Integrity is about respect and recognition, Pride is about belonging and inclusion (FIRO), and Passion is about connecting to some future goal.. The result is employee engagement.. which equals retention. Incidentally, these concepts also overlap with concepts in Lencioni's new book on misery! :)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Collaboration Conundrums

Harvard Business Review has an interesting article by Lynda Gratton and Tamara Erickson. It points out some of the paradoxes of teams.

  • We know that diversity is a strength once a team is well formed. Diversity brings forth creativity and insight that comes from multiple perspectives held by those from different backgrounds and viewpoints. The paradox.. research shows that the higher the proportion of people who do not know anyone else on the team and the greater the diversity, the less likely the team members share knowledge.
  • Knowledge is good. Right? We want our teams to have specialize knowledge. We want the experts, but research shows that the greater the proportion of highly educated specialists on a team, the more likely the team is to disintegrate into unproductive fights. Kinda sounds like a faculty meeting...
  • Virtual teams.. it is the great solution for all of us who travel too much. Wikipedia.. Facebook.. etc.. the Net is allowing us to work together in new ways at a distance. It all makes sense, but research shows that as teams become more virtual... collaboration declines.
So what is the message for leadership. There are great examples where the above paradoxes were overcome. The question is are these examples, these successes we see the norm or are they exceptions to the rule. Think of the last time you were on a team that was diverse, has self-proclaimed experts, or were meeting at a distance. These teams have much to offer, but we have to accept that this is a huge challenge. The first step is to pick up the latest version of Harvard Business Review and read it. The second step is to ponder the following questions:

How do we build trust with individuals who are different from us?

How do we build trust with individuals who perceive they know more than us?

How do we build trust with individuals who are at a distance from us?

TRUST.. sort of becoming a theme for this blogger lately...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Ron Brown on the Future

Listening to a talk by Ron Brown on the future of Extension.. the art of disseminating knowledge that is created in Land Grant University Labs. I will try and capture his major points here today (excuse the typos.. doing this on the fly).

We have to unlearn and relearn in-order to change for the future. Changes that may influence us:

  • Demographically we are changing - we are getting grayer, older, browner, and more diverse
  • There will be twice as many old people in the near future
  • Families: Few Children, 75% will be nontraditional families
  • Declining rural and urban communities (Increasing problems/declining opportunities)
  • Changing workforce (Gen X vs Retiring Older workers)
  • Increase in the demand for training
  • Natural Resources: Value shifts.. care for animals, need for open space
  • Social Issues - Obesity, housing, globalization, terror, safe food, disasters
  • Technology, web 2.0, anywhere-anytime-anydevice
  • Funding pressures and accountability
"We have to eager to learn and enjoy change."

Refers to Scott Moore of Yahoo.. Moore showed that 60% of the audience that is watching 60 minutes on Yahoo is under the age 44.. 70% of the TV audience is over 60.

In 1993 according to Pew, 60% watched network news.. today on 28% watch network news.

Two Change Ideas
  • Bigger and more consistent is Better (Mergers, Leadership wants consistency, but we are not all alike, we are all unique) Consolidation can cause us to be more alike.. may weaken our ability to be unique and successful
  • New and exciting: Something new and different, even when it is not much gets way more attention. Older programs that are effective don't get the headlines.. Maybe we should rename our stuff that is working.. put a nice new look on it.
Skills needed to deal with Change:
  • Vision - From all levels, inspiring, pointing to the future
  • Good to Great: Listen to your customers - Continue to find your hedgehog
    • Tells the story of the managers of Walgreen who had to accept location change so that Walgreen could put their buildings on the corner. Being Good keeps you from accepting change.. can not be satisfied with Good
  • Must move to be more cooperative.. team approach regardless of the external culture of competition.
  • We have to look for new ways of doing things.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Wikipedia vs primary sources

Seth has a very good piece on this blog this week about Wikipedia. I agree with much of what he says with regard to students spending time on writing vs spending time finding articles. Where I differ is I disagree with his suggestion that students do not need to learn to find "primary" sources. This is a continuous debate, one that is old.. began back before the net... Seth even discusses an example where he slipped by in his younger days. And while I am a big believer and users of wikipedia.. students need more skills than looking things up in an encyclopedia.. we needed them back in the 1900s.. and we need them today.

One of the most important issues in today is to ensure that you have valid and accurate information. Wikipedia replaced encyclopedias..and does a better job in MHO, but it is still a secondary source. It was true before and it is still true that our students should be learning how to validate and read primary source materials while synthesizing their own original thoughts. They can use wikipedia for their daily needs, but they also need this added skill. What example can I use to make this point.. Wikipedia comes to mind! We don't want our students to be just users of wikipedia.. we want them to be contributors.. contributors know how to find information and pull it together in a valid and reliable way. So I slightly differ with you Seth.. I want my son learning how to find information.. I want him to be writing wikipedia articles.. so he is going to be reading journals and such.. In fact.. now that I think about it.. there will be lots of people who can write.. it will be the ones who find the knowledge that have the edge...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Trust, Web 2.0 and Influence, Social Networks Part II

I continue to think that trust development is critical question to maximizing Web 2.0 technologies. Check out James Randerson's article in the Guardian Unlimited. Back in September of this year, he reported on research by Will Reader at Sheffield Hallam University. If Reader is correct, and there needs to be much more research performed on how can we build trust through online networking sites. If we can not develop solutions to the trust issue, sites like Facebook and twitter may be end up be much less significant in influencing behavior among network members. Exploring how trust can be built among these social networks may prove to be the six million dollar question.

Along the same vain, I am increasing interested in the complexity of social networking from the view of anthropology. Especially from the view of Dr. Karen Stephenson who has defined seven separate knowledge networks that flow through an organization. I have take the liberty of renaming some of her titles, but her list is a pretty good definition of the people networks we should be aware of in any change management effort:
  • The Work Network
  • The Innovation Network
  • Expert Knowledge Network
  • The Change Agent Network
  • Social Network
  • Career Coach Network
  • Decision Maker Network
Dr. Stephenson's work is interesting from the standpoint that she has identified the host of knowledge sharing networks that can be found within any given organization. By exploring the complexity of these networks and the interrelationships between members of this networks, leaders have the potential of a new age change model. More on that later.. One final point, Dr. Stephenson's work defines high trust networks which are maintained the old fashion way... It would be interesting to discover if the net lends itself to enabling one these networks in a more effective way than others.. think innovation...

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Trust, Web 2.0 and Influence, Continued

Anne Adrian has an posts an excellent response to my posting this week on Trust and Web 2.0. I agree with much of what she has posted. Especially her statement:

Additionally, Web 2.0 can be used to maintain and build upon existing professional relationships. Let me give a personal example.

I see some of my colleagues from other states only 1 or 2 times a year. Social networking, blogging, commenting, Twittering, and instant messaging (and Facebook, to a much lesser degree) helped build upon the acquaintance of our relationships into a higher level of professional respect.

Now, when we see each other at conferences "we start in the middle of conversations." The respect and understanding of philosophies were not created through the face-to-face time, but rather through (online) casual and informal conversations and through blogging.

Without social networking--particularly, blogging and presence technologies--this would not have happened. On a few occasions, confidential remarks have been made in IM or email--mirroring how we communicate with our local trusted professional friends. Are any of these online friends my "Top 8" closest professional friends? Not yet, but I will not discount that from every happening.

Anne's post allowed me to see this issue from a different perspective. She did an excellent job of summarizing the issue. I agree that some low level trust may be developed with complete strangers using Web 2.0 tools. These types of social networks are useful in many ways, mostly in influencing through spread of knowledge. This trust may lead to behavior change in the sense of transactional change. For example, I might purchase a different type of golf club brand after reading a blog, or after noticing twitter postings by a significant golfer and his frustrations with one brand or another. All this is true, but it is equally true of all other forms of Web 1.0 technologies. Web 2.0 adds a bit of the reality TV quality to Web 1.0 in my view.. but that type of trust is very limiting. Where I still have grave questions is whether Web 2.0 technologies can lead to high trust communities.. Teams that we know from research will perform at three times the level of productivity of typical low trust community.

For clarity sake, my question is not intended to negate the many wonderful Web 2.0 positives. Web 2.0 technologies are enhancing productivity and enabling more collaboration than ever before, but at this time I do not see them creating high trust-performing social networks. And while these low trust social networks are an improvement to no social networks, they have much less potential than if one can discover how to build high trust within Web 2.0 social networks. Here is another question for you..

Think of a significant transformational change you observed in yourself or a close friend where someone influenced you to change. The key word is transformation.. a new way of living or working completely. Now, what level of trust did you have in this individual? Can you build this level of trust using Web 2.0 technologies? How?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

egonomics hits a homerun!

In what I predict will become a best seller and one of the top books on leadership this year.. egonomics: what makes ego our greatest asset (or most expensive liability) delivers what every leader needs.

I did a quick count in my head and the number of leaders I know who could benefit from just one chapter in this book is amazing to me. Do you know of a leader who is too competitive.. or maybe one who is likely to become defensive if you question something they have done... or maybe one who thinks the world revolves around them.. If so.. your Christmas shopping is done. Buy it, wrap it up, and send it.

Of all the books I could give to a CEO or top leader who is derailing, I think this one is my favorite. It paints a road map on how to become the Level 5 leader that Jim Collins describes in Good to Great! And if you know of a young charging leader, this may be the best book I can recommend to keep them from derailing on their way to top. For one, I see some of my biggest mistakes described in this book. Some it took me years to overcome both personally and in the view of others. So ego is important and we all need to read this book.

Web 2.0 = Social Networks, NOT

I should begin this post by warning you that I am being a bit of a devils advocate.. but I am beginning to believe that Web 2.0 is a lot of hype on the social networking scene. Now, before you attack me, let me clarify that there is a difference (in my view) between networks of people communicating and socializing.. and real social networks that yield power. What's the difference.. it comes down to one thing.. TRUST. Trust has become the leadership mantra of the age. Covey talks Trust, Lenconni talks trust, even the social networking gurus are now talking trust.

Let me explain by describing functioning social networks. Here are three examples:

The Creative Network: Withing each organization, there is a group of individuals, who when alone discuss what I call "career ending ideas." They ask the questions that nobody asked in the board room meeting, like.. "What if we eliminated John's product line and reorganized?" These type of discussions occur when the two or more people in the room trust each other and know that they have to protect those involved in the discussion. These type of discussions also create a sort of social network that can eventually result in organizational change.... sort of an innovators club.

The Knowledge network: Also within every organization is a group of experienced individuals who have become quite accomplished. They tend to be the experts on how to do things.. and we have developed a trust in their knowledge and abilities. Their level of knowledge and skill.. (demonstrated through the many times we have relied on them) results in this group have abnormally high influence. We know them, and as a group, they tend to make up a network of individuals who bless new ways we want to work. And while everyone can act or claim to be an expert, we trust this select group because they have demonstrated skill at very high levels.

The Learning Network: Within these same organizations, there are networks of individuals that are created around learning. If I am a new manager, it is not too long before I begin relying on another more senior manager for advice and counsel. This chain of coaches and coachees creates a rich network built on trust. As any good coach will tell you, they can not help anyone who does not trust them. Most of the best coaching I have done has been when I helped someone face a fear or a failure, something that required a tremendous amount of trust in me as a coach. It also requires a great deal of trust to tell someone a fear or weakness you are facing. Real learning networks are build on a foundation of TRUST, not access.

So what is the point: When I look at who I might go to for advice on how to do my job, who I might trust because of their competence, or who I like to hang out and brainstorm answers to the questions we are not allowed to ask... It is not someone I met on Facebook, or who I first met through twitter, or who reads this blog. Truth is, we don't know each that well and I am still pondering how I could build a community of trust using these tools. No, the person I see having influence over my thoughts is soLet me be very clear.. the thesis of this post is simple:

It appears that WEB 2.0 does not build true social networks, it enhances those that we create through the richness of face to face contact.

Sure there are individuals who I have met using Web 2.0 tools, but the level richness and trust in these relationships is low. Only through time together and experiences where trust is built will I develop a true social network.. that takes time.. not something I can do using IM.

The leadership implication is that effective use of Web 2.0 will best be done in a blended manner, where it is coupled with other methods of working together. It also suggests that if you formed a virtual group using one of these tools, you need to find a way to have a trust building experiences.

So, here is my question today and I really hope I can get some feedback: Think of a stranger you have met online... in what way would you develop a high level of trust using WEB 2.0?

Monday, October 8, 2007

CEO = Self-Deception

Further evidence is presented in the September Harvard Review... CEO's often think their leadership team is doing better than the senior members of that team. When assessed on the following questions, CEO's reported the team as doing much better than the mean of the other senior members of their team:
  • The Team is effective overall?
  • Decision-making processes are clear
  • Team deals well with conflict
  • Members put the welfare of the organization above interests of their own divisions or functions
  • CEO provides effective direction for the team.
The study is really nothing new, but it still reinforces the challenge for all leaders: Staying in touch with reality when most of your direct reports will sugar-coat what they tell you.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Marion Jones - The System is Broke!

The evidence is clear.. the system is broke! We can get disappointed in individuals like Marion Jones who after years of benefiting from her lies, now freely admits her guilt when it may benefit her. but the system is broke.. Here it is in bullet format:
  • In 2000, Jones was an Olympic champion, an Icon with manufactures begging her to be sponsors for her products. It would have been hard to say no to millions of dollars.. can you really blame her.. a little lie and she has a great cash flow.. but after a divorce, a house foreclosure, and now a possible prison term.. Ms Jones is the loser.. chewed up by the a system that promotes the very behavior she has exhibited.
  • In the Women's World Cup, Coach Ryan chooses to go with a more experience goal keeper, one who has faced the opponent over a younger but still accomplished player. The player who is benched disrespects her coach and also her team member... the media and community rallies to support the benched player rather than acknowledge that respect for the team and coach should come first over winning. (See my last post)
  • In the 2006 Men's World cup, France captain Zinedine Zidane wins the Golden Ball award for the World Cup's best player, despite getting a red card while losing to Italy in the final. the head butt was uncalled for, intentional, away from the play, and very malicious, and yet... Zidane polled 2012 points in the vote by journalists covering the tournament, ahead of Italian Fabio Cannavaro (1977 points) and Andrea Pirlo (715 points).
  • In 2004, with his new book hitting the bookstores and after years of denial, Pete Rose freely admits that he bet on baseball. What's his motive.. selling books, getting into the Hall of Fame. The system rewards this behavior.. to this day, he is still making appearances and signing autographs. (Disclaimer.. he was one of my childhood idols)
I could list more.. B. Bonds, T. Owens, The Yankees and Boston buying winning teams, etc... but you get the picture. Between a media that often depends on the hyped stories, manufacturers who have co opted our sport stars to sell their wares, and a lost of respect for the sportsmanship.. we have a system that is rewarding cheaters and failing all of us. It impacts every level of the game.. down to junior high stars who go to Nike camps where they will get a better shot at scholarships to college and end up being a marketing tool for Nike .. or high school parents who get into fights with coaches over who plays.. the stories are many.. and the conclusion is clear: The System is broke! And the sad part.. is most fans want it this way... We buy Nike.. we beg for autographs.. we pay unreal prices for 3 hours in a tight seat watching something that is on our TV at home.. To quote Dr. Suess..

"And this mess is so big
And so deep and so tall,
We can not pick it up.
There is no way at all"

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Broken Windows - World Cup Final Word

In Honor of the current smelly behavior of our World Cup Team, See U.S undecided on goalkeeper... and Solo's teammates leave her in the cold... I thought it was fitting to revive an post from my old blog on the behavior of the Men in their last World Cup...

We sit around and complain about our leaders for not being ethical. Yes, it has become an art form and nothing represents this more than the final of the world cup. Sure.. I agree that what Zidane did was horrible and the punishment was just, but the truth is we created this environment. Just like Jerry Maguire figured out... We live in a culture of competition that often pushes leaders to the line between what is right and wrong. While it is most visible in sports, it happens in the corporate halls as well, and in truth, our leaders are enabled by our own behavior.

The broken windows concept is that when someone walks down a street with broken windows, they are far more likely to throw a piece of trash of paper on the ground.. This concept also applies to higher crimes.. the more we are surrounded by bad behavior, the more likely even good people will fail to stay on the right side of ethics. I will argue that Zidane.. did what we enable him to do.. by creating an environment where we accept that is "ok" to win at all costs. where we don't complain when our own team cheats.. takes a fall, or worst does something as bad as Zidane.. If this is to get fixed.. it will take more that firing a couple of bad CEOs and sports stars.. everyone is going to have to shape up.. We have to yell just as loud when our own team cheats.. whether it is corporate or sport.. we all have to behave! I am starting now! Posted by mowen ( Jul 12 2006, 01:54:33 PM EDT )

That was the post back in July of 06.. now we find a similar problem among our own women's team.. After much reflection on this incident.. it is clear that no one looked very good.. except maybe Scurry who I do not believe commented. I also think Hope has to share a large part of the blame for what happen. After openly criticizing both another player and her coach (even if she was right), he was left with no choice but to bench her.... So here is how I count the points..

Coach Ryan loses 1 point for first benching the superior player for a legacy player, another point for not substituting in the younger player during the loss with Brazil, and finally another point for not allowing Hope to dress even though her comments were worthy of benching. (I am still not sure of the last point.. Ryan may have studied the video and saw how Hope acted on the bench in the Brazilian game). In truth.. benching her may have been appropriate.. we don't know the team rules.. winning is not everything.

Hope loses a point for her behavior on the bench.. and another point for her comments.. the way I see it, they both should be off the team. Neither deserve our respect. Neither exhibited behavior that is worthy of World Cup play.. keep in mind.. Hope is 29.. her comments were not the emotions of a 18 year old freshman.

Enough said.. but one last point.. those who defend Ryan could be accused of defending incompetence.. those that defend Hope could be accused of empowering self gratification and poor sportswomanship.. Neither of these individuals deserve to be defended.. they need to learn what they did was wrong.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Nine Things They Don't Tell you about Leadership

Nine Things They Don't Tell you about Leadership
by Mitch Owen

1. Job Skill is one-third of the success equation.
Knowledge and skill is important, but it equals about 1/3 of the equation for success. Making successful decisions and building strong relationships are just as important.

2. 95 percent of real leadership is in doing the hard work.
Being in the leadership means you get to go to nice meetings and eat wonderful meals.. but the truth is great leaders know.. it is all in doing the hard jobs. Your people remember you most when your there during the tough times. Here is an easy question.. how many funerals and hospitals did you visit this past year? Think about it.. I still remember one of my dad's former football players just because he choose to fly 500 miles and spend a weekend telling me what my dad meant to him. I would follow him anywhere!

3. Everything is not equally important, but everything is very important.
Yes.. it says what it says. Somethings are more important.. One of the toughest job is deciding what is most important and staying focused on that and only that.. and yes.. everyone thinks everything is important, so be prepared to have a few doubters.. especially when you don't value their special projects as most important.

4. Most complex problems are really simple, we just don't like the answer.
Several years ago, an organization I was advising got into financial trouble. The creditors were bang on the door and even threating to foreclose. The President looked at me and said, this is such a complex problem, I am not sure what to do. Truth was, it was a very simple problem.. he just didn't want to face the truth. He had to sell a portion of his business to save the rest. Sure, he could use bankruptcy protection, but the solution was still the same. We did 23 different scenarios showing them the same basic answer.

5. Don’t forget where your taking them.
Much of leadership is making strategic choices where you want to take your team and then staying true that choice. In sports it is easy.. score the most goals, win games.
win a championship, etc.. In life, it is not as simple. In my experiences, leaders have a tough time choosing what their goals will be. When they do choose a single focused goal, they usually do quite well. I am reminding of companies like Southwest.. who transformed an industry by focusing very specifically on things that matter.

6. When you throw your weight around, you usually fall.
One of the toughest dynamic of being a great leader is to exude confidence without being arrogant. No one follows you if they think you don't know what your doing, but no one wants to be around someone who looks and acts like s/he knows it all.

7. In the end.. it is personal
Everyone says that business is business.. it's nothing personal. Truth is, it is personal. Most employees who leave a job, do so because they don't think their boss cares about them. Caring about people is one of the most underused techniques in building teams. Trust me.. we all want our boss to care about us.

8 The rest of the world counts.
Even your enemy's matter in the world of leadership. Don't burn bridges.. don't hurt people when their down. Remember that even strangers matter in the long run. Touch strangers with your endless meaningful little acts of compassion and build friendships. Years from now, one of those strangers might end up being your boss...

9 Failure is necessary to be successful
If you really hope to be successful, you have to fail a time or two. It's true, there is even research to back it up. Not only does it give you humility, it also teaches you how to avoid failure when it really matters. So, if your having a rough year, just think of it as your last year in grad school..

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Six Million Dollar Question

One of my favorite teachers from college was my soil science teacher: Dr. Martini. Although he was my best friend's father and quite entertaining, I think the main reason I grew to like his classes so much was the related to "Six Million Dollar Questions." Dr. Martini would teach in a very engaging style and at points in the lecture.. he would state "This is the six million dollar question.. if you don't know this question, don't even bother to come to class for the test!" Even more astonishing, was the fact that years later, I found that my grasp of soil science is still strong and those six million questions (or answers) made all the difference in my vegetable garden. It wasn't knowing the material that was so crucial to success.. it was knowing the right part of the material.. So, how does this relate to todays leadership challenges...

Today, most of are faced with challenges where there are no Dr. Martinis to lay out the six million dollar questions? We are looking at a large text book of material, having to make decisions on what to do and what not to do... and we often don't have clues as to which of these questions are most important.. and which can be ignored. We are overwhelmed with the hundreds of actions that we could take and we know that we have time for only a few... Let's take a simple problem:

If you offer a product, you should be doing some customer evaluation of that product.. and given what I have seen in my experiences.. most of you have somewhere from 10 to 25 questions your asking.. but is there a six million dollar question? Just one question that will serve you well.. allow you to evaluate a product and move on to decision.. the research says yes: The six million question is:

Would you recommend this product to a friend?

Yes.. all the other questions are helpful.. but asking this one question tells you whether this is a product that will continue to be wanted by your customer.

I would suggest that their are other six million dollar question that we learn from our leadership experiences. Do you have any. I have a buddy who use to tell me this one:

Does creating this rule control 1% of your workforce, while penalizing and limiting the other 99% of your workforce?

Of course.. we have those kind of rules, but the answer is hopefully no in most cases. What are the other six million dollar questions you can ask that will help you move through the complexity of today's leadership? Please share your's so that we all can learn from you experiences!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Why Employees Leave!

Leigh Branham has put together a great book on The 7 Hidden Reason Employees Leave!
I recommend it and have found it very useful. What I like best is he targets things many of us could fix, but we just don't have them on our radar. My favorite is Reason 1 - The Job or workplace was not what was expected. Here are some tough questions you might ask yourself:

  1. Do you conduct realistic job previews with every job candidate?
  2. Do you make a significant percentage of your hires from a pool of temps, adjuncts, or part-time workers who already know your workplace?
  3. Do you use employee referrals and hire a significant percentage of these referred potentials?
  4. Do you have realistic job descriptions with a short list of the most critical competencies?
  5. Do you allow candidate's future coworkers to participate in job interviews?
  6. DO you make a significant percentage of hires from a pool of current employees?
  7. Do you build into the interviewing process a way for candidates to gain a "sample" of the on-the-job duties.
  8. Do you survey or interview new hires to find out how to minimize new hire surprises in the future?
That last question is clear that it is not just what has caused someone to leave you in the past... An even more important question you should be asking is what is causing your current employees to think about leaving?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

KAI - Wisdom of Hawaii's Ocean

I have a great little book by Renata Provenzano based on the lessons we can learn from KAI. KAI means ocean in Hawaiian. It is amazing what you can learn about leadership from just appreciating the forces of nature. Here is one of my favorite quotes in the book:

"Personally, the biggest lesson from our ocean is to respect it. Waves are more powerful and predictable than I am. They can come up and wipe you out instantly. We need to respect nature because it's so much more powerful than we are. If you're going to go into its environment you need to walk lightly first and learn from it. There's no way you can fight it, no way you can take it on. It can be calm and still one moment and then it can be growling and nasty. I've been in both situations many times."

- Kiki Hugho, Pilot Boat Captain, Outrigger Canoe Paddler, Hokule'a Crew Member, Ocean Man, Mystic, O'ahu.

Whats the leadership message. Think of the last time you joined a team where you were new but everyone else had been together for awhile. The culture and rules for operating are the KAI.. they are powerful and can wipe you out in an instant. Walk lightly at first.. learn the culture of this team you have joined.. and most of all, don't try to impress them with all your knowledge and skill.. less the ocean will rise up and be nasty...

More on KAI later.. especially on "Eddie would go!"

Monday, September 17, 2007

Patrick Lencioni's Dysfunctions of Team - Pillars of Success

I have used Patrick Lencioni's model of the Five Dysfunctions of a Team to great success in helping young leaders understand the challenges of bringing a team together. Lencioni's book starts by stressing the five critical dysfunctions that teams have to avoid and presents them in a hierarchical fashion.

Using Lencioni's model, we can say that:
  1. Teams have to begin by building trust in each other and the leader.
  2. Then you must have a team that can discuss conflict openly.
  3. The third pillar is for everyone to be fully committed.
  4. The forth is the need for everyone to accept accountability for their role.
  5. Finally, there has to be an attention to getting results.
I take groups through the positive side of that model.. So I call it:

The Five Pillars of a Strong Team.

While I still think very highly of Lenconi's model and will continue to teach it, I still feel it can be enhanced further. In teaching this, I have often noticed that the first two seem to have so much more impact on learners. I have recently been toying with how I might improve on the final three pillars. With that in mind, I would love your input on the following variation on Lencioni's model:

  1. The first pillar to team success is to create an environment trust. The lack of trust in the team can derail them regardless of whether the other pillars are in place.
  2. The second pillar is a open environment where all can share their views without fear of conflict. I teach this as a environment that is interested in learning about both sides of every decision. This pillar is fully grounded in the Learning Organization movement.
  3. The third pillar relates to how significant is the cause. Lencoini's stresses that team members have to be committed to the cause. This is true, but more significant in this is the significance of the cause. The more significant they view the cause, the greater their commitment will be. For this reason, I have changed this pillar to "Finding a meaningful and greater-than-self outcome to work toward."
  4. The forth pillar based on Lencoini's model is all about taking personal accountability. I have modified it to be "Identifying Your Contribution to Achieving a Meaningful Outcome you could not Achieve Alone."
  5. The fifth pillar is all about measurement. One of the best outcomes of the past 20 years has been the concept of scorecards. Tools that help teams know if they are achieving the outcome they are striving for. Take Toyota.. I am sure they have been gunning to be the biggest car maker for many years.. I am willing to bet that each team in Toyota down to the line where they put the camry together are measuring success toward some outcome. How fast do we put it together, how safe were we this year, how many failures did we have.. all meaningful outcomes for that team. the fifth pillar is still tough to lay out in one sentence.. "Do you seek the truth and aggressively pursue the data that tells you (measure) if your team is on the path to success or failure."
I would love your input. I am still evaluating this approach and I have also begun to wonder if there is a pillar or two missing..

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Are you having a Britney Spears moment?

Everyone is making a big deal out Britney Spears flop at the MTV awards, but ironically I think Britney has it pretty good compared to the rest of us. I am viewing this from a leadership perspective.. and you may say, has he lost his mind, but stick with me.. it will all make sense in the end. Let's agree that Britney did flop.. She was doing what she is suppose to be good at and well.. had a bad day.. week.. or whatever? There is a great leadership lesson in here, and Britney is blessed to have instant feedback.

What happen to Britney, having a bad day is not uncommon. It happens all the time in our organizations. Our leaders all have bad days.. they might give a poor speech or answer a question in a defensive manner. They might try and do a meeting when they have been sick and really come off as a weak leader. All sorts of things can happen and worst.. sometime is not a bad day.. but rather a habit they have. I once had a boss who was fond of stretching stories about his sporting accomplishments. We all knew they were white lies and the impact on the team was to introduce a sort of "make fun of the boss" culture. He never knew what he was doing.. that the very culture he would whine to me about... he actually created.. which is my point.. At least Britney Spears got the message that she flopped. She can go work off a few pounds or starting shopping at a mature girl store. My boss was out of luck.. I was just an young 18 year old kid and wasn't about to tell my boss.. your a clown.. grow up and quit bragging about how great a sports star you were.

One of the greatest failures of leaders is the art of self-deception. It has a profound impact and can literally cause a leader to crash and burn without them even having a clue to what is happening. One of my favorite examples is when a leader things very highly of him or herself.. EGO is just a wonderful vice. The research indicates that these leaders will actually not be able to see their contributions to failures.. actually be blinded to their own weakness.. We all need a little Britney time to keep us humble and help us get beyond our self deception...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Employee Retention - Hiring the Right Fit

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) just published some data that sheds some understanding on employee retention. The first question is "who is ready to work?" Their findings are that the five most important skills for a new employee are:
  • Professionalism
  • Teamwork
  • Oral Communication
  • Ethics and Social Responsibility
  • Reading Comprehension
You might note that knowledge of a specific field of study did not make the top 5.

The second question relates to retention directly. SHRM asked employees what were the most important things that influence their job satisfaction. The findings in rank order are:
  1. Benefits
  2. Compensation or Pay
  3. Job Security
  4. Flexibility to balance life and work issues
  5. Communication between employees and senior management
  6. Feeling safe in the work environment (up 14% since 2002)
  7. Management recognition of employee job performance
  8. Relationship with immediate supervisor (HR Directors rank this 1st)
  9. Autonomy and independence
  10. Opportunities to use skills and abilities.
The implication is that while the literature has documented that having a positive employee relationship with their supervisor is critical to employee staying on the job, concerns over benefits and good medical care may be actually creating dissatisfaction. The lesson to organizations is to ensure that they do not allow their benefits packages to diminish to a level where they become de-motivators for employees. I was blessed to get to tour the UPS facility in Louisville Ky last month. I was impressed with the mechanics of this huge system of getting all these packages to where they needed to go. But what impressed me the most was UPS's benefit packages.. how they took care of even part-time employees. Well Done UPS! Your employees know what Big Brown Can Do for Them!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Pavorotti... One regret I will always have

When I die, which will hopefully be many years from now, I know now that I will die with at least one regret.. I will always regret that I never saw Luciano Pavarotti live in concert. He gave the world music that transcended generations and cultures and he did it with what is the most wonderful voice we may ever hear. I especially like the fact that he could sing Ava Maria.. then turn around and sing with James Brown. He was a gift from the heavens.

The lesson to me is never to put off something that will make a difference in your life. Sure, there are lots of better things to do with my time that concerts, but I do believe this one would have made a profound impact on my view of the world. So, I will take this one off my list of things to do and refocus my efforts on those things that really matter.. like watching a world cup game (cricket or football-soccer)

Friday, September 7, 2007

Leadership: ASU upsets Michigan

I have been pondering what I could say about the huge upset Appalachian State pulled off this pass weekend. It will no doubt go down as one of of the greatest upsets in the history of the game of American college football. What has struck me is the degree of debate that now is found over the question of how good is ASU? This afternoon, I was entertained by emotional debates on my local radio channel over just how good is ASU? Do they deserve to be in the top 15? Are they better than half of the Division I football teams? All good questions, but also a symptom of our culture that may be holding us back as a organizations.

Let me bring it home to your organization with a simple question: How often when someone in your organization receives an award or promotion, do others in the organization talk negatively about them behind their backs. Is there a culture of tearing down those who achieve in your organization. It may be very well human nature for us to explore the question "How Good is that winner?" when we see someone do well. The implication is not good for building a trusting organization. Especially if this question dominates the culture.

The leadership tip! Build a culture of celebrating success in others. Embrace them and park your need to judge how awards are judged. With that said.. Congratulations to ASU! What a wonderful experience for all of us to celebrate your achievement this past weekend!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Arizona Memorial - Team

Spent the weekend doing the sights with my mother who has never been to Hawaii. Took her to two special places.. Punch Bowl and the Arizona Memorial. These places always give me pause and instill a respect for those who fought in WWII. So much courage and commitment to a greater cause. I always feel something special and there is always something I didn't see the last time that jumps out at me. This time it was the commitment to each other among those serving on the Arizona. Of the survivors.. and there were only a few.. 20 or so of them decided to be interned with their shipmates at the bottom of the ocean. It speaks to the connection between those who have faced a crisis together. It describes a loyalty that few companies have and most want.

What is the leadership lesson. Maybe I am stretching, but when a team or company is facing crisis, there is a sense of commitment that brings good teams together. That commitment can be built on, and once the crisis is over be a source of great accomplishment. The key is ensuring that you have a good team prior to the crisis and showing respect for the team members.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Charisma Does matter!

I agree with much of what Jim Collins espouses in his book Good to Great.. especially about Level 5 leaders being humble and focused more on the work than themselves. I am also in agreement with what Anthony Smith says in his book The Taboos of Leadership about leadership being also about Charisma! The following excerpt says it well:

"It's hard to argue against the charisma of some of our most heralded and successful leaders, inside and outside of business. Gandhi had charisma; so did Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, Winston Churchill, and Ronald Reagan. These people were known as leaders because of their vision, conviction, and tremendous influence over others, as well as their appealing mystique. In business, few leaders have been as notable as these public figures, but those who transcend their organization are often undeniably intriguing. Whether Jack Welch, Richard Branson of Virginia, Herb Kelleher of Southwest, or Warren Buffett of Berkshier Hathaway, we want to know more about them, and we want to know more about the secrets the possess. "

He continues... "People who are impressive have special qualities. Some of that impressiveness has to do with technical competence, but there is also the impressiveness that comes with good looks, communication skills, or aura..."

Even Jim Collins might have to agree with this. If you read my earlier post.. if you have seen him speak.. I have to say he is Level 5 Leader.. and he also is rich with Charisma.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Gen X, Gen Y, Failure of T&D?

I had a profound fear strike me on the issue of differences across the generations. Anyone who has read on this topic knows that there will be challenges in leading a diverse workforce made up of different generations. I alluded to this in an earlier post. The short issue statement is that generations differ on values due to the significant events we experience. Examples include the depression, WWII, Vietnam, Columbine, 9/11. The earlier post goes into it more, but an example would be G.I. Generation was known for their selflessness and commitment to society.

So what was so profound.. that I am now feeling inadequate as a leadership development expert. First what lead me to this thought... I have been reading and listening to famous speeches, stories and history on WWII, the pacific & D-Day for several days(See my last post). Coupled with some additional reading I had been doing on Martin Luther King and his Birmingham letter from prison... it struck me as strange the impact these stories had on my sense of who I was. I was too young or not even born then, but somehow I was able to relive these events. My sense of sacrifice.. what someone should face for the good of others was changing. Through study and experience with history, I was embracing the same values of the GI Generation.

My Fear: Are we missing this in programs we offer to young employees?

We know that these events helped form the value system of their generations. Values that future generations do not necessarily understand. For example, WWII vets came home with a new sense of citizenship. I am reminded of the story of John Brady, one of the flag raisers at Iwo Jima. He came home believing he an obligation to others because he survived when 1000s died taking the island. The question is why shouldn't other generations be exposed to these stories in a way that instills in them the same sense of citizenship. The same sense of it is not all about having fun.. or being able to do what you always want.

These significant events have taught their generations what is important to success and happiness. They have raised a consciousness among the generation.. but the lessons should be shared. Are we digging deeply enough in the personal development of these young employees? Will it will be years before they go through a leadership program where they are challenged by these sorts of stories? Are we even considering how important these stories are in our current leadership programs?

Sunday, July 8, 2007

The Boys of Pointe de Hoc

I have been rediscovering great speeches and letters over the past few days. Part of my journey begins with the great speech by President Reagan on the 40th anniversary of D-Day. The Boys of Pointe de Hoc speech, written by Peggy Noonan, is a vivid reminder of the courage and selflessness of an earlier generation. The video (look to the left) posted this week on the blog gives you a short part of the speech. For a transcript of the speech, you can find it on this page put up by the Regan Foundation. Douglas Brinkley has also published a great account behind this speech that gives an clear understanding to the importance of this speech in American history. I encourage you to read this book, but at minimum, listen to the speech. All of us, Gen Xs, Ys, etc.. need to recommit ourselves to a higher cause.. something greater than our own personal interest. This speech inspired me to this end... I hope it does the same for you.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Brigadier General Leo Brooks.

The Leaders Vault blog has an excellent video clip up with Brigadier General Leo Brooks discussing what the military is doing to develop leadership. After the introduction, it starts a little slow, but once he begins giving examples of what he means by "strategic thinking" and other principles, it it is very insightful.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Kimo Kippen at ASTD

Kimo Kippen gave a message on Ohana (Family)9at ASTD this year. He is the VP of Human Resources for Marriott and was asked to introduce the keynote done by Keith Ferrazzi. Before introducing Ferrazzi, told three stories about leadership.

Kimo's Lesson on Ethics!

Kimo was eight years old 8 and just beginning to think for himself. His had a close friend named John. And John's father was going to war. Viet Nam.. Kimo's grandmother was very spirited and was against the war. He was unsure.. should he be for or against the war... went to his mother and asked her who was right.. His mother was very wise and told him said two things:

She told him that everyone was right!

Then she asked him a question: "What do you think is right?"

The lesson is an important one. Kimo's mother taught him that he had to decide what was right for himself? He had to be an independent thinker.. her simpler and power advice continues to shape him.

The Importance of OHANA

One of his first leadership role was managing the hospitality bar in a maui hotel.. He had a secret shopper.. who came into his shop. Secret shoppers are trained to do quality audit on the operation and she was brutal on them. They were all called in on their day off for a meeting and she laid out all the things his team was doing wrong. It was all negative. Kimo got upset and decided that he had to talk to his boss. He had strong feelings that they had been treated unfairly. He told his boss that that moral was down and they were all unhappy. He thought he was easily killing any future job opportunities he might have, but he believed his was doing the right thing.

His boss told him one thing... "For every arrow she through at you, it when through you and hit me in the stomach." He took ownership of the problem and took responsibility and accountability. The boss demonstrated the concept for Ohana.. we are all family.

OHANA - 9/11

Then Kimo brought home by reminding us that on 9/11.. an employee of Marriott, Nancy, was in charge of their property that sat on the edge of the towers... When it all began to fall, Nancy had to get everyone out of the hotel.. over a 1000 guest. Nancy had to take care of the ohana (the family) and using the master list of all guest and employees. Risking her life.. hanging on to the list, more precious than her own life.. they worked to get everyone out. They lost 2 associates helping guest get out of the hotels, but they got people out of the hotel. They also saved the flag from the hotel which today sits in their corporate offices in DC. Kimo walks by it every morning and thinks "OHANA!"

These three stories echo the importance of treating your employees as a family. Putting yourself last.. putting them first.. Great stories and Kimo did a much better job of telling them than I!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Big Questions.. Great E-learning

The Big Question over at the Learning Circuits Blog this month is what is great e-learning. While Learning Circuits tends to focus on corporate e-learning, I think it would be useful for them to see something a little more fun.. So my vote for a great e-learning site is CyberCamp!

Why do I like it.. well it is interactive... it engages you quite well and best of all.. it teaches you important things.. Even us adults will learn a thing or two..

What sites do you think of when asked the question "What is great e-learning?"

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Jim Collins - Reflections on his mentors...

Jim Collins' presentation had a few nuggets in his talk, but the part I loved the best were his stories about his mentors.. here are a few great comments:

John Gardner taught him about the importance of learning and being curious. He loves to quote one of of Gardner's best statements to him.. Jim, you need to spend more time being interested, and less time trying to be interesting." The message.. Life is about asking questions and being curious about why something is the way it is.

Bill Lazier was the who Collins refered to as his chairman or his personal board of directors.. his team of mentors. He credits Bill with teaching him the principle that there are two paths he could take in life.. he could build relationships or he could just do transactions. The latter would never lead to success.

Joann Ernst (wife and Ironman Champion) taught him about asking the right question. She was facing breast cancer and one day his was asking all these "what" questions. What are going to do about this.. or that.. etc.. She looked at him, smiled and said.. "You need to read your own book.. It is not the "what" questions we need to be answering, we need to be answering "who" questions! Who do we need to go see? Who can help us with this or that?

Rochele Myers
helped him to personalize his work. What is your personal hedgehog. Align the following three answers..
  • What can you be the best in the world at? (And equally important—what can you not be the best at?)
  • What is the financial need that best drives you?
  • And what are you deeply passionate about?
Rochelle helped him to realize that the building a "do not do" list was the most important thing he needed.

He also had two great quotes from Peter Drucker. He ask Peter Drucker, out of the over 30 or more books he has published, which was he most proud of. The response was classic Drucker.. "The next one!" At the end of his day with Drucker, he ask him how he could ever pay him back. Drucker told him to go become a mentor to others! and then at the end of their conversation, Drucker slammed his hand down and said.. "Now.. go out and make yourself useful!"

Jim Collins' Keynote - ASTD 2007

Jim Collins gave another great keynote at ASTD and hinted at his next book. He is doing research on companies that go from great to good. It sounds like it builds on his past research, but also will help organizations understand the stages of decline. Here is what I could pull from his presentation:

First a good quote.. His mentor John Gardner once said... "I want to grow and learn as much between the ages of 70 and 88 as I did between the ages of 0 and 12”

Collins opened up by telling stories about why learning is important: "Life is about being curious. To be surprise and to discover what we did not know." He also talked about his love of data.

His latest question:

How do companies fall.. midstream Why did one go from Great to good or worst.. What happens just before that company goes down..

Then he told one of his best stories ever.. His wife is a Iron Man Champion.. and a great athlete.
In August of 82, his wife was running up a hill dominating the hill while he walked.. He remember watching her run up the hill ahead of him, he was just able to walk at this point. She looked like the perfect specimen of health.. then in the fall.. she was diagnosed with breast cancer.. even when she was climbing the hill back in August.. the disease was in her body.. His main point:

When a company is in decline.. the disease is not visible.. Companies can appear to be in great shape, may be in decline.

Collins says there are 6 stages of decline.. Can you see a book coming.. :)

The decline does not show until stage 4 or 5. What is it you expect to see that you don’t.. complacent qualities does not show until late in the process No one is immune. There is good news: You can fall along way and still come back. You can come back from Stage 5. Those things that we found in good to great help you come back. I am guessing he will have more to say on this soon. He did not allow them to tape his talk.. and his slide on the 6 stages was up only a sec.. I couldn't even get the first one.. ughh.

He did leave us with lessons from his mentors.. Maybe if I can I will post those later..

Sunday, June 3, 2007

New Learning Leaders: Your First 60 Days

Today I attend an ASTD session by Jeff Lucas and Tracy Cox (Raytheon) on what they learned about the priorities for New Learning Leaders. They did a survey of learning leaders, subordinates of learning leaders, as well as a few CEOs and other types of related positions across a broad range of business types. Here is what they found:

The type of positions that were cited as the best for developing one for the role of learning leader are Human Resources and Program Management.

Individuals early in their career should seek to develop knowledge and skills in the area of knowing the business first, then focus on building your relationship management skills, seeking out leadership opportunities, and insuring you have high skills in learning acumen.

Individuals in mid-career or later, should seek to focus more on building strong relationships and managing their social networks. Business acumen, leadership development, and skills in learning acumen are also important, but relationship development is more critical at this stage in your career.

Once you become a learning leader, the most important competencies according to their survey are:

    1. Strategic and visionary thinking 62%
    2. Relationship management 41%
    3. Influential communication 36%
    4. Performance results 34%
    5. Learning acumen 33%
    6. Business acumen 30%
Another way to describing success would be how would it look if you are an effective learning leader. The survey indicated that the following would be true:
  • There would be measurable business impact
  • Learning would support and have a strong relationship to business goals
  • The organization would have a learning oriented culture
  • People would be developed
One of their favorite quotes was “When their vision is shared throughout the organization, and their value is realized, not calculated.” I personally like this. The idea of people in your organization just believing that training is making impact.. wow!

The presenter offered several recommendations.. but two stick out above all the rest. Not that they all were not important, but maybe these two mean more to me personally:

  • Make sure you know the business your in. Know what everyone in the business is trying to do, what their mission is, what they business goals are, who are the key leaders in the organization, who are your main clients... etc. The more know about everything in the business, the easier it will be to align your learning system to strategic business goals.
  • Be intentional about your social network. Build a network of leaders who can advise, support and encourage you. I have mentioned it before months ago that I have what amounts to a Personal Board of Directors.. a social system of key leaders who help me with tough decisions and ensure I stay honest.. :)
They shared other important recommendations from their history of working with rising learning leaders, but it is late and time for bed. I have more to share on today at ASTD.. maybe I will post something early in the morning.. till then, good night.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

American Society for Training and Development

Starting Sunday, I will be at the International Conference of the ASTD. This is a great time to soak up trends in leadership development, as well as check out new strategies and methods for e-learning and face-to-face training. I will be trying to capture some of the keynote's main points here on the blog when possible. Just to give you two of the big names who will be presenting: Jim Collins and Tom Rath. I am excited about both as well as the unknowns.. they have presenters from across the globe sharing their insights on training and development. I am not sure right now whether I will post just once a day or try posting during the day. Some of this will depend on access to wifi at the convention center and how spiritual the moment is.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

McCain on Lord Nelson

I am back to my reading McCain's "Character is Destiny" and found myself overwhelmed with the story of Lord Nelson of the British Navy. It is amazing that as early as late 1700s, today's leadership principles were well developed and evident among one of the greatest navy leader. Here is a excerpt from the book:

...He took great care to cultivate the friendship of his subordinates, and to explain to them in detail his battle plans in advance of an operation. He emphasized to them what he intended to accomplish, and would leave much of how it would be achieved to them. Once guns were firing, he expected them to use their own initiative without waiting for his further instructions, to conform to the extent necessary to the overall line of battle he have given them, but seize opportunities where they presented themselves to destroy the enemy with the courage and daring he always showed in combat. "No captain can do very wrong," he told them, "if he places his ship alongside that of the enemy."

He inspired them to share his self-assurance by his demonstrations of confidence in them. And he saw to it that the rewards of glory and fortune won by daring and ambition were fairly shared. Most important, he did not shift the blame for mistakes and occasional failures to his subordinates, but assumed the responsibility for them himself. He gave his officers greater responsibility that they had ever possessed, and he never shirked his responsibility to them. This quality of command - daring , inspirational, confiding, and fraternal - renowned as the "Nelson Touch," forged extraordinarily strong bonds of mutual trust and affection between Nelson and his officers. It made him the greatest commander of this age....

I know I live for this stuff.. but when you read this excerpt, you have to get a chill in your bones when you think about how Lord Nelson was centuries ahead of his time. If only Jim Collins was writing Good to Great in 1805!

Monday, May 28, 2007

In Memory of those who gave their lives for our freedom!

"Yesterday, the greatest question was decided which ever was debated in America; and a greater perhaps never was, nor will be, decided among men. A resolution was passed without one dissenting colony, that those United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States.

John Adams
Letter to Mrs. Adams, July 3, 1776

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
-John F. Kennedy

Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Soldier, rest! Thy warfare o'er,
Sleep the sleep that knows not breaking,
Dream of battled fields no more.
Days of danger, nights of waking.
-Sir Walter Scott

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Are you telling the right stories

Over on the Mind Hacks blog, there is a post on a recent NY Times article on narrative psychology. Researchers are studying how stories we tell can be predictive of our mental perspective and ultimately about our contributions to society. This research is very interesting, especially when you couple it with work being done on crucial conversations and Chris Argyris' work on the Ladder of Inferences.

This is worth a read.. check out this excerpt:

"Jonathan Adler, a researcher at Northwestern, has found that people’s accounts of their experiences in psychotherapy provide clues about the nature of their recovery. In a recent study presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology in January, Mr. Adler reported on 180 adults from the Chicago area who had recently completed a course of talk therapy. They sought treatment for things like depression, anxiety, marital problems and fear of flying, and spent months to years in therapy.

At some level, talk therapy has always been an exercise in replaying and reinterpreting each person’s unique life story. Yet Mr. Adler found that in fact those former patients who scored highest on measures of well-being — who had recovered, by standard measures — told very similar tales about their experiences.

They described their problem, whether depression or an eating disorder, as coming on suddenly, as if out of nowhere. They characterized their difficulty as if it were an outside enemy, often giving it a name (the black dog, the walk of shame). And eventually they conquered it."

This work raises more questions for me. Can we predict whether leaders of organizations will be successful by the stories they tell? Or, do the stories we tell ourselves ultimately influence how successful we will be?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Mitch's top 8 dimensions of culture

One of my frequent reading mailing lists has been debating the art of facilitating when you have diverse cultures in the room. The debate has been interesting, but it also reminded me of how often we reduce culture differences down to the simplistic issues of the wrong jester or saying something that is not cultural acceptable. While important, there are models out that explain far deeper differences than that which we can easily identify. A quick meta analysis of the literature can yield easily 10 or more dimensions that we should learn more about. These dimensions play significant role in how much success one can have across cultures as well as can be predictive in determining where a conflict might occur. Here are my top 8 dimensions defined very simply:

Time - One of the easiest to understand. Cultures differences around time include:
  • Are you focused on yesterday, today or tomorrow?
  • Are you focused on one issue/person, or multiple issues at the same time?
  • Is late one minute pass the hour, or 30 minutes pass the hour?
Action - One of the most profound dimensions, relates to how we approach team project:
  • Are you oriented on doing the task or building relationships first.
Communication - A biggy.. and we are not talking about language:
  • How important is context to your communication?
  • Are you direct or indirect in what you share?
  • Are you expressive and show how you feel?
  • How big is protocol and formality to you?
Space - Please stop touching my stuff.. Yes.. how private are you?

Power - Do you prefer hierarchical or flat power structures

Competitiveness vs. Collaborative - Does this one really need an explaination..

Structure - Do you prefer order or like to be flexible?

Individualism - Two perspectives explain this one:
  • Is it about you: "Me" generation vs. our is about the community "taking one for the team"
  • Justice -All treated the same vs. each treated based on their situation and who they are.
I know of other dimensions, but these are the ones that I have seen have impact on learners when they explore their own preferences and learn of cultures differing them.