Hammer and Nail

Often, we have a one size fits all orientation to life. 

“To a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”


We try to solve fresh daily problems, yet everything we are going through is seen through our preset filters and mindsets. 


In many cases, we are simply and undeniably biased, mistakenly believing that what worked in the past or for particular challenges will always work in the future and for all our problems. 


We stereotype people and races and see them as either “the good guys” or “the bad guys”–but there’s no grey in there to further differentiate.  


Also, we work in a comfortable zone of blind routine thinking that we wish it’s all as simple as wash, rinse, and repeat.


But while some die-hard habits and lessons learned in life are very valuable and should be mentally recorded and referenced, seeing life through a single, or even a few handy-dandy, filters can prove disastrous when things or times change. 


For example, one big criticism of our dealing in Washington is that:

“Politicians, like generals, have a tendency to fight the last war.”


Instead, if we evaluate the nuances of each person and particular situation, we can work to get a more detailed evaluation, and potentially be able to fine-tune approaches for what needs to be done, and how, with each and every one, accordingly. 


Chucking a batman belt approach to just using whatever tools are immediately available, can facilitate a broader and more creative approach to problem-solving. 


Sure, to a certain degree, we are creatures of habit–and we intuitively rely on what’s worked in the past, and reject and shun what hasn’t–but past experiences do not necessarily foretell future successes. 


If we don’t stay agile and resilient, we can easily get blown away by the situation or the competition. 


There is always a new challenge to test us and someone coming up who may be better, faster, or stronger that wants to try and take us on or down. 


A shotgun approach, in lieu of a more precise surgical strike, can result in a lot of collateral damage and maybe even missing the mark altogether. 


Think, think, think. 


Focus on what needs to get done–apply lessons learned as applicable, but also look for new sources and methods to build a bigger and more versatile tool chest.


In the walking dead, a hammer to the head works fairly well on all Zombies, but sometimes there are too many zombies in the hoard or even more dangerous living people and situations to attend to. 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to stevepb)

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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)