It Takes A Village

Village.jpeg

I wanted to share some good tidbits about effective management, collaboration, and engagement that I heard this week at a Partnership for Public Service event.


It Takes A Village – No I don’t mean the book by Hillary Clinton, but rather the idea that no one person is an island and no one can do everything themselves. Rather, we need the strengths and insights that others have to offer; we need teamwork; we need each other!


2-Way Communication – Traditionally, organizations communicate from the top-down or center to the periphery (depending how you look at it).  But that doesn’t build buy-in and ownership. To do that, we need to have 2-way communication, people’s active participation in the process, and genuine employee engagement.


Get Out Of The Way –  We (generally) don’t need to tell people how to do their jobs, but rather develop the vision for what success looks like and then get out of the way of your managers and people. “Make managers manage and let managers manage” and similarly, I would say, hold people accountable but let people work and breath!


Things Change – While it’s important to have consistency, momentum, and stay the course, you also need to be agile as the facts on the ground change.  “Disregard what’s not working, and embrace what is.” But you must stay open to new ideas and ways of doing things.


This is our world of work–our village–and either everyone helps and gets onboard the train or they risk getting run over by it. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

| Go With A Winning Strategy |

Chess

So there was an office discussion the other day about something having a “checkered past.”


And one of my colleagues said wisely about it, “I rather play chess!”


I though it was a smart retort, since chess is a game of strategy versus checkers, which is more a game of luck. 


Checkers is by far the more one-dimensional game with each piece moving or jumping in a similar fashion, while in chess, you deploy specific types of pieces (king, queen, rook, bishop, night, or pawn) for different manuevers. 


In life, when we deal with things that are especially challenging, double-edged, tricky, or plain dangerous, we need to handle it with a well-thought-out game plan and a solid strategy.


Having a plan and maintaining agility in dealing with the “facts on the ground” as they unfold is by far the better problem-solving approach than just trying to jump over the other guys pieces or block his next move. 


Chess in the only way to get to checkmate 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Florls Looijesteijn)

Okay For A Drive By

Shooter
So, having grown up in New York, I’ve definitely heard of a drive by shooting, but never a “drive by meeting”. 



Until a colleague asked me, “Okay for a drive by?”



A little taken aback, but I was available (and figured not in any imminent danger by his type of “drive by”), so I agreed to meet for a few minutes. 



The meeting was quick, like a car whizzing by, but we discussed what was needed and accomplished the immediate goal. 



Personally, I prefer when someone is driving the meeting, rather than having a drive by meeting, but we all need to be agile to whatever the day brings. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Go Quick And Far

Africa
I love this African proverb that I heard recently:

 

“If you want to go quickly, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together.”

 

When we’re alone, we are traveling “light”–we don’t have to worry about or help another person…we can go quickly.

 

However, when we go together with another, we have a companion and support, and can endure more and go much farther.

 

In life, going it alone…is more of a “flight” response. When you have to run, you get away as quickly as you can.

 

In the movie Last of the Mohicans the fleeing male character yells to the woman, “Stay Alive! No matter how long it takes, I will find you.”  They disperse, each one moving as speedily as possible to survive.

 

Similarly, when we have to “fight,” there is power in numbers. We are always stronger and more capable as a team.

 

Already from The Three Musketeers, we acknowledge the familiar refrain of, “All for one, and one for all.”

 

Similarly, when a military force advances it does so in strength with coordination and in unison, but when it is under severe attack and is retreating, often it does so chaotically, running with “every man for himself” trying to save as many as possible.

 

Overall, while we need the strength of unity and the speed of an agile runner, in the end we have to have faith, hope, and perseverance to survive.

 

Ernest Hemingway said, “The world breaks everyone, and afterwards some are strong at the broken places.” 😉

 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

I Like That Technology

I Like That Technology

Christopher Mims in the Wall Street Journal makes the case for letting employees go rogue with IT purchases.

It’s cheaper, it’s faster, “every employee is a technologist,” and those organizations “concerned about the security issues of shadow IT are missing the point; the bigger risk is not embracing it in the first place.”

How very bold or stupid?

Let everyone buy whatever they want when they want–behavior akin to little children running wild in a candy store.

So I guess that means…

Enterprise architecture planning…not important.
Sound IT governance…hogwash.
A good business case…na, money’s no object.
Enterprise solutions…what for?
Technical standards…a joke.
Interoperability…who cares?
Security…ah, it just happens!

Well, Mims just got rids of decades of IT best practices, because he puts all his faith in the cloud.

It’s not that there isn’t a special place for cloud computing, BYOD, and end-user innovation, it’s just that creating enterprise IT chaos and security cockiness will most-assuredly backfire.

From my experience, a hybrid governance model works best–where the CIO provides for the IT infrastructure, enterprise solutions, and architecture and governance, while the business units identify their specific requirements on the front line and ensure these are met timely and flexibly.

The CIO can ensure a balance between disciplined IT decision-making with agility on day-to-day needs.

Yes, the heavens will not fall down when the business units and IT work together collaboratively.

While it may be chic to do what you want when you want with IT, there will come a time, when people like Mims will be crying for the CIO to come save them from their freewheeling, silly little indiscretions.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Have Some Chutzpah

Have Some Chutzpah

Nobody likes to get or feel rejected–whether asking someone on a date, applying for a job, coming up with a new idea…you don’t want to get shot down…you want to be appreciated for who are you and what you “bring to the table.”

I used to have a teacher who used to tell his students “nobody appreciates how great you are like your mother does.”

In other words, don’t get overconfident and think your so smart, so good-looking, or so otherwise great–just because you received unconditional love from your parents–who tell you everything you do is so amazing and you are G-d’s greatest gift to mankind–doesn’t mean it’s really true.

So get real about yourself!

Bloomberg BusinessWeek (7 January 2013) had an article about something called “Rejection Therapy”–where for 100 days, this guy–Jia Jiang–“makes at least one preposterous demand everyday” that get him “strange looks, rude comments, and outright dismissal.”

He posts videos of this to his site entresting.com or “Hope from nope.”

Jiang is trying to learn a little chutzpah and determination in the face of rejection–especially for landing some venture capital funding for a social networking app he wants to build.

To teach himself to get out there, try his best, be willing to fall off the horse and get right back up again, Jiang now purposely seeks to get rejected every day–thinking that “Everybody has failures periodically. The people who are generally successful are the ones who bounce right back.”

So he asks random people for crazy things…like a policeman, if he can sit in his/her squad car–just to see what happens and if he gets rejected whether he can brush it off–and generally be strong in the face of (repeated) failure and some accompanying adversity.

It’s a crazy experiment, but one that is getting Jiang noticed–maybe you’ve got to be a little crazy to stand out from the crowd.
In the end, it’s not about rejection, but about trying your best and being willing to take some bruises and bumps along the way to your goals.

The path to success is littered with wounded and even dead bodies–to succeed you’ve got to have some chutzpah–plus a dose of resilience and perseverance–to get out there and try, try again. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Adapt and Live!

Train

The Times, They Are a-Changin’ is a song by Bob Dylan (1964), it is also the reality of our times today, and how we react to all the change can make or break us.

Like with Agile Software Development, one of the main values is “responding to change over following a plan,” to improve the success of software development, similarly in the world today, we need to be able to rapidly and flexibly respond to change in order to successfully compete.

Fast Company (February 2012) has two important articles on this topic–one is called “Generation Flux” and the other “The Four-Year Career.”

Generation Flux is about how we are living in a time of “chaotic disruption” and that this is “born of technology and globalization.” Generation Flux is a mindset of agility versus a demographic designation like Gen X or Y.

All around us we see the effects of this rapid change in terms of business models and leadership turned upside down, inside out, and sideways.

Recently, we have seen:

– Mainstay companies such as American Airlines and Hostess declare bankruptcy

– Some titans of the Fortune 500 companies ousted, including Carol Bartz of Yahoo, Leo Apotheker from HP to name just a few

– Others, like RIM and Netflix have fallen from grace and are struggling to regain their footwork–some will and some won’t

At the same time, we have seen the ascension of companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon becoming the “kings of the hill”–driven in part by their agility to get in and out of markets and products:

– In 2010, Google was getting out of China; today Google is expanding its presence once again. In addition, Google continues to start up or acquire and discontinue services regularly; just last year they closed Google Desktop developed in 2005, Google Health Service started in 2008, and Google Aardvark purchased in 2010 (and more)

– Amazon, once an online book and music retailer has now become the premier e-Commerce company as well as the No. 2 in tablets and in the top 3 in cloud computing.

– Apple was slick in developing the navigation wheel on the iPod only to get rid of it completely with the touch-screen of the iPad.

– Facebook continues to adapt to security and privacy concerns, but still has more to do, especially in terms of simplifying choices for their users.

According to Fast Company, to survive, we need to be profoundly agile and “embrace instability, that tolerates–and enjoys–recalibrating careers, business models, and assumptions.” The article points out that this is just as Darwin has professed, ultimately it is the agile that will survive–not the strongest or smartest.

For organizations, change, agility and adaptability is the name of the game, and they are depending on petabytes of information and the business intelligence to make sense of it all to make the right decision every day.

For individuals, “the long career is dead” (U.S. workers have a medium job tenure of only 4.4 years and have an average of 11 different jobs over a lifetime) and “the quest for solid rules is pointless” (with automation and robotics atrophying low- and middle-skill jobs and part time, freelance, and contract work all on the rise). Now, in an agile marketplace, “career-vitality” or the continuous broadening of individual capabilities is encouraged and expected, and the “T-shaped” person with both depth or subject matter expertise as well as breadth in other areas in becoming more and more valued.

Moreover, hard skills are important, but social skills and emotional intelligence are critical to get along, share information, and collaborate with others.

Of course, not all change is good, and we need to speak up and influence the direction of it for the good, but in the end, standing still in the path of genuine progress is like standing in front of a speeding locative.

While the quiet and serenity of maintaining the status quo is often what feels most secure and comfortable in uncertain times, it may actually just be the forerunner to the death knell for your career and organization. There are no short-cuts to continuing to learn, explore, and grow as the world around us rapidly evolves.

Adapt and live or stagnate and die.

(Source Photo: here)