Traits To Be Prez

The personality to be President:


1. Experience, Diplomacy


2. Direct, Honest, Strong, Results-oriented


3. Passionate, Dedication, Survival of the Nation


A short interview with Andy Blumenthal


(Source Video: Dannielle Blumenthal)

Looking At Ourselves In The NUKE Mirror

Eye In Mirror
Any deal is based on T-R-U-S-T and verification, especially when it comes to dangerous nukes. 


Yet the deal with Iran–a member of the “Axis of Evil” and the #1 state sponsor of terrorism worldwide and of the worst abusers of human righs is trustless, especially when verification mechanisms are weak and Iran is non-complaint?


So where’s the trust headed now (has anything changed, what are the signs so far)?


T – Turning away – Iran continues to turn away and refuse access to inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) who are tasked with the verification of Iran’s non-proliferation of nukes.


R – Restraining people – Iran continues to disrespect us and holds 4 Americans hostage with no sign or promise of release. 


U – Undermining – Iran continues to undermine any relationship with the West by affirming that hostile policies toward “arrogant” America will not change


S – Swindling – Iran continues to swindle and deceive the West going so far as to publish a 416-page manifesto by the Ayatollah on destroying Israel, “the ally of the American Great Satan.”


T – Threatening – Iran continues to threaten the West most recently warning of a “Third World War” sparked by terorrism, and continuing chants of “Death to America!


So what’s the future of this deal in protecting the world from nukes and terrorism–let’s be honest and look in the mirror and ask what’s the deal here? 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

To Archive Or Not

To Archive Or Not

Farhad Manjoo had a good piece in the Wall Street Journal on the Forever Internet vs. the Erasable Internet.

The question he raises is whether items on the Internet should be archived indefinitely or whether we should be able to delete postings.

Manjoo uses the example of Snapshot where messages and photos disappear a few seconds after the recipient opens them–a self-destruct feature.

It reminded me of Mission Impossible, where each episode started with the tape recording of the next mission’s instructions that would then self-destruct in five seconds…whoosh, gone.

I remember seeing a demo years ago of an enterprise product that did this for email messages–where you could lock down or limit the capability to print, share, screenshot, or otherwise retain messages that you sent to others.

It seemed like a pretty cool feature in that you could communicate what you really thought about something–instead of an antiseptic version–without being in constant fear that it would be used against you by some unknown individual at some future date.

I thought, wow, if we had this in our organizations, perhaps we could get more honest ideas, discussion, vetting, and better decision making if we just let people genuinely speak their minds.

Isn’t that what the First Amendment is really all about–“speaking truth to power”(of course, with appropriate limits–you can’t just provoke violence, incite illegal actions, damage or defame others, etc.)?

Perhaps, not everything we say or do needs to be kept for eternity–even though both public and private sector organizations benefit from using these for “big data” analytics for everything from marketing to national security.

Like Manjoo points out, when we keep each and every utterance, photo, video, and audio, you create a situation where you have to “constantly police yourself, to create a single, stultifying profile that restricts spontaneous self-expression.”

While one one hand, it is good to think twice before you speak or post–so that you act with decency and civility–on the other hand, it is also good to be free to be yourself and not a virtual fake online and in the office.

Some things are worth keeping–official records of people, places, things, and events–especially those of operational, legal or historical significance and even those of sentimental value–and these should be archived and preserved in a time appropriate way so that we can reference, study, and learn from them for their useful lives.

But not everything is records-worthy, and we should be able to decide–within common sense guidelines for records management, privacy, and security–what we save and what we keep online and off.

Some people are hoarders and others are neat freaks, but the point is that we have a choice–we have freedom to decide whether to put that old pair of sneakers in a cardboard box in the garage, trash it, or donate it.

Overall, I would summarize using the photo in this post of the vault boxes, there is no need to store your umbrella there–it isn’t raining indoors. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Spinster Cardigan)

Beauty And Kindess In Miami


I took this photo coming into Miami.


The beauty of the water, beaches, islands, intercoastal, modern high-rises, and more is just amazing to me. 


All this while we have the seasons changing up north.


This evening, in a restaurant, when I took out my phone for a moment, I accidentally dropped my wallet. 


I could have easily lost it and would’ve been up a creek!


I was really taken aback when someone came up and says holding out my wallet, “Excuse me, I think you must’ve dropped this.”


I was really grateful, and then not sure who else may have picked up my wallet before this person gave it back to me, I quickly started flipping through it to make sure everything was still there. 


Thank G-d!


And thanks to this nice person for being so honest and kind. 


When I left the restaurant, I stopped by their table to profusely say how much I appreciated what they did and to wish them a happy Thanksgiving–the real meaning, indeed. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Don’t Communicate Like A Dump Truckity

Do_not_push
I don’t know a lot about huge dump trucks.

But I wondered what this meant when it says on the back of this multi-ton vehicle–“Do Not Push”.

Don’t worry, I won’t! 🙂

In life, we often communicate things that either we aren’t really clear about, don’t mean, or end up being misunderstood for.

In fact, probably one of the toughest “soft skills” to learn is communication skills.

I don’t know why they call it soft, since when you communicate poorly, you can get hit over the head–quite hard.

One of the biggest issues is people who talk too much (i.e. they dump on others), but aren’t very good at listening. Hey, they may as well be talking to themselves then, because communication is a two-way street.

Good communications skills include the three C’s: clarity, conciseness, and consistency, and I would add–last but not at all least–a T for tact.

Communication skills also overlaps with the ability to effectively influence, negotiate, and create win-win solutions, so actually communication is at the very heart of what we need to do well.

When communicating, don’t be pushy and don’t be pushed around (i.e. get dumped on)–and don’t get hit by that over-sized dump truck–communicate early, often, honestly, and with passion.

(Source photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Democracy Built On More Than Hoya

There is a funny joke that is timely for election season, and it goes something like this…

“It was election time and the politician decided to go out to the local reservation and try to get the Native American vote.

They were all assembled in the Council Hall to hear the speech.

The politician had worked up to his finale, and the crowd was getting more and more excited.

‘I promise better education opportunities for Native Americans!’ The crowd went wild, shouting ‘Hoya! Hoya!’.

The  politician was a bit puzzled by the native word, but was encouraged by their enthusiasm. ‘I promise gambling reforms to allow a Casino on the Reservation!’  ‘Hoya! Hoya!’ cried the crowd, stomping their feet.

‘I promise more social reforms and job opportunities for Native Americans!’ The crowd reached a frenzied pitch shouting ‘Hoya!  Hoya!  Hoya!’

After the speech, the Politician was touring the Reservation, and saw a tremendous herd of cattle. Since he was raised on a ranch, and knew a bit about cattle, he asked the Chief if he could get closer to take a look at the cattle.

‘Sure,’ the Chief said, ‘but be careful not to step in the hoya.'”  🙂

So when candidates get on their soapboxes and promises are being made on the left and on the right, you can only but wonder what is a promise that is sincere and will be kept and what is a promise that is for garnering votes and will be ignored.

When the mic is unknowingly on and you hear something you weren’t meant to hear, it is hard not to wonder about true intentions.

The New York Times calls these “moments of political candor,” while the Wall Street Journal (30 March 2012) calls it “moment[s] of political contempt.”

The Journal asks why we would not be told the truth about intentions with the implication that it is something that the candidates do not want us to know or that we would not approve of.

Who are these candidates really? Does anyone really know when words are but bargaining chips for winning elections, rather than true commitments of the heart.

It is scary, when the truth is obscured by empty words that change with the audience, and then votes end up based on false promises, vagaries, and disappointments.

When it comes to elections–Is the truth out there? Does it exist?

People deserve candor, sincerity, and to know where candidates really stand on the issues, so they can vote for what and whom they really believe in.

Democracy is built on more than rolling hills and valleys filled with hoya–the truth is it’s foundation.

(Source Joke: here and Source Photo: here)

 

>Why Reputation Is The Foundation For Innovation

>

Toyota is a technology company with some of the most high-tech and “green” cars on the planet. But right now Totoya’s leaders seem to lack integrity, and they haven’t proactively handled the current crisis. As a result, everything they have built is in danger.

Too often, IT leaders think that their technical competency is sufficient. However, these days it takes far more to succeed. Of course, profitability is a key measure of achievement and sustainability. But if basic integrity, accountability, and open and skillful communication are absent, then no amount of innovation in the world can save you.

Looking back, no one would have thought that Toyota would go down in a flaming debacle of credibility lost. For years, Toyota ate the lunch of the largest American car manufacturers—and two of the three were driven to bankruptcy just last year. Moreover, they had a great reputation built on quality – and that rocketed Toyota to be the #1 car company in the world.

A reputation for quality gave Toyota a significant edge among potential buyers. Purchasing a Toyota meant investing in a car that would last years and years without defect or trouble—it was an investment in reliability and it was well worth the extra expense. Other car companies were discounting and incenting sales with low or zero interest rates, cash back, and extended warranties, and so on. But Toyota held firm and at times their cars even sold for above sticker price. In short, their brand elicited a price premium. Toyota had credibility and that credibility translated into an incredibly successful company.

Now Toyota has suffered a serious setback by failing to disclose and fix brake problems so serious that they have allegedly resulted in loss of life. Just today, the Boston Globe reports that Toyota has been sued in Boston by an individual who alleges that “unintended acceleration (of his Toyota vehicle) caused a single-car crash that killed his wife and left him seriously injured.” The Globe goes on to report that “dozens of people reportedly have been killed in accidents involving unwanted acceleration.”

While nothing is perfect, not even Toyota engineering, in my opinion the key to recovering from mistakes is to be honest, admit them, be accountable, and take immediate action to rectify. These are critical leadership must do’s! Had Toyota taken responsibility in those ways, I believe their reputation would have been enhanced rather than grossly tarnished as it is now, because ultimately people respect integrity above all else, and they will forgive mistakes when they are honest mistakes and quickly rectified.

Unfortunately, this has not occurred with Toyota, and the brake problems appear to be mistakes that were known and then not rectified—essentially, Toyota’s transgression may have been one of commission rather than simply omission. For example, this past week, the CEO of Toyota, Akio Toyoda, testified before Congress that “we didn’t listen as carefully as we should—or respond as quickly as we must—to our customer’s concerns.” However, in reality, company executives not only didn’t respond, but also actually apparently stalled a response and celebrated their success in limiting recalls in recent years. As Congressman Edolphus Towns, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, stated: “Toyota’s own internal documents indicate that a premium was placed on delaying or closing NHTSA investigations, delaying new safety rules and blocking the discovery of safety defects.” (Bloomberg News via the Austin American Statesman)

In other words, Toyota strayed from its promise to customers to put safety center stage. Rather, profit took over and became the benchmark of success.

Even the company’s own managers acknowledge the deep wound that this scandal has inflicted on the company, and have doubts about its leadership. According to the Wall Street Journal, a midlevel manager stated, “Mr. Toyoda cannot spell out how he plans to alleviate consumer worries….it is a recall after another, and every time Mr. Toyoda utters the phrase ‘customer first,’ it has the opposite effect. His words sound just hollow.’” Said another, “The only way we find out anything about the crisis is through the media….Does Mr. Toyoda have the ability to lead? That’s on every employee’s mind.”

Indeed, the Journal echoes these sentiments, noting that under Toyoda’s leadership, there was a focus on “getting the company back to profitability, after the company last year suffered it first loss in 70 years.” In other words, in an attempt to “reinstate frugality,” it appears that CEO Toyoda went too far and skimped on quality—becoming, as the saying goes, “penny wise and dollar foolish.” We will see if this debacle costs Toyota market share and hurts the bottom line over the intermediate to longer-term.

In recent times, we have seen a shift away from quality and credibility in favor of a fast, cheap buck in many sectors of the economy. For example, I have heard that some homebuyers actually prefer hundred-year-old homes to new construction due to their perception that the quality was better back then and that builders take shortcuts now. But somehow Toyota always stood out as a bulwark against this trend. It is therefore deeply disappointing to see that even they succumbed. While the company has a long road ahead to reestablish their credibility and rebuild their brand, I, for one, sincerely hope that they rediscover their roots and “do the right thing.”

>When Commitment is Just a Crowd-Pleaser

>

In the organization, you can’t really do anything without management commitment and a certain degree of consensus. In fact, management commitment is usually at the top of the list when it comes to a project’s critical success factors.

But when is commitment real and when is it just lip service?

Sometimes, when the boss tells you to do something, he means it and gives you the authority and resources to make it happen. Other times, “go do” is superficial and denotes more of a “this isn’t really important”, but we need to make a good show of it for political, compliance, or other reasons. In the latter case, there is usually no real authority implied or resources committed to getting the job done. But at least we gave it our best (not!).

As an employee, you have to be smart enough to know the difference in what you’re being asked to do (and not do), so you don’t end up stepping in the muck—trying to do something that no one really wants anyway or the opposite, not delivering on a project that others are depending on.

Knowing the difference between what’s real and what isn’t can mean the difference between a successful and rewarding career (i.e. “you get it”) or one that is disappointing and frustrating (because you’re sort of clueless).

It was interesting for me to read in the Wall Street Journal, 5 February 2010, about how looks can be deceiving when it comes to support for someone or some cause: apparently, in certain European countries, such as Ukraine, it is common place for rallies to be attended not by genuine supporters, but by people paid to show up. In other countries, you may not be paid to show up, but instead be punished for not doing so.

The Journal reports that “rent-a-crowd entrepreneurs find people fast to cheer or jeer for $4 an hour…[and] if you place an order for a rally, you can have it the next day.”

So what looks like thousands of people turning out to support someone or something is really just a sham. This is similar to leaders who turn out to support a program or project, but really they are just paying lip service with no intention of actually helping the project make an inch of progress. Their superficial support is paid for by goodwill generated by their apparent support or what one of my friends used to call by “brownie points” (for brown-nosing their boss or peers)—but of course, they aren’t really behind the initiative.

The article summarizes it this way: “For now, people see the same old politicians and hear the same old ideas. If someone fresh brings a new idea, people will come out and listen for free.”

Good leaders need to actually say what they mean and mean what they say, so employees are able to focus on the work that’s really important and get the results the organization needs. This contrasts with ineffectively telling employees to “go do”, but no one is standing with or behind them—not even for 4 dollars an hour.

Of course, leaders must get on board with the direction that the overall organization is going. That is just part of being a team player and accepting that first of all, we are not always right as individuals, and second of all that we live in an imperfect world where sometimes our choices are not ideal.

However, when employees are required to rally for causes they truly don’t believe in or leadership feels compelled to pay lip service to initiatives they will not ultimately fund or commit to, the result is a dysfunctional organization. The outward reality does not match the actual feelings or thoughts of its people. (Sort of like having a diversity initiative headed by all white males over the age of 50.)

Let us commit to a spirit of honesty in all our dealings. If a conflict needs to be addressed, let’s address it directly rather than avoiding or glossing over it. One very basic and simple step toward this end is to recognize and reward the people who are brave enough to say when the emperor has no clothes and who are able to provide alternatives that make sense.

And finally—when we do commit to something—let’s see it through.

>Do What’s Right–Anyway

>

I read this amazing poem and wanted to share it. It is wise and inspiring and provides leadership and life lessons for all.

___________________________________________

Mother Teresa’s Anyway Poem

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered;

Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;

Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;

Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;

Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;

Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;

Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;

Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;

Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

>Project Failure, Why People Can’t Own Up

>

I saw this funny/sad Dilbert cartoon on project management by Scott Adams (BTW, he’s terrific!).

It goes like this:

Office colleague (water cooler talk): How’s your project coming along?

Dilbert: It’s a steaming pile of failure. It’s like fifteen drunken monkeys with a jigsaw puzzle.

New scene….

Boss: How’s your project coming along?

Dilbert: Fine.

END

This common work scenario is sort of like a game of truth or dare: you either have to tell the project truth or take the dare and do something embarrassing like proceed with the project that isn’t on track.

Teammates, colleagues, peers often talk frankly and honestly about the problems with their projects and often the talk may become sarcastic or even somewhat cynical, because they know that they can’t tell their bosses what is REALLY going on.

What a shame in terms of lost opportunities to communicate, solve problems, and drive project success for the organization.

People are afraid to be honest, direct, tell the truth, and work together with their management on constructive solutions.

Instead, people simply say everything is fine, period.

Sort of like when your boss asks politely at work how are you doing? And rather than say, well I woke up late, missed my train, spilled coffee on my tie, and am having trouble meeting my deadlines this week, the person almost always replies, reflexively, “I’m fine” and “How are you?”

Another manifestation of the it’s fine syndrome is with executive dashboards or project scorecard reviews where virtually all the metrics show up as “green”, even when you know they are not—does yellow or red sound too scary to have to put on paper/screen and explain to the boss.

We are conditioned NOT to talk casually or to report to our superiors about issues, problems, or anything that can be perceived as negative, least they be labeled as trouble-makers or “the problem,” rather than the solution. Ultimately, employees don’t want to be blamed for the failures, so they would rather hide the truth then own up to the project issues, and work constructively with their management on solutions or course correction—before it’s too late.

Now isn’t that a novel idea? Management and staff working together, actually identifying the issues—proactively and in forthright manner—and working together to resolve them, rather than sitting across the table, sugar-coating or pointing the accusatory finger.

People have to take responsibility and own up when there is a problem and be willing to talk about them with their management, and management needs to encourage frankness, a “no surprises” culture, and a team-collaborative environment to solving problems rather than instilling fear in their employees or implicitly or explicitly communicating that they only want to hear “good news.”

Good news is not good news when it’s fabricated, a distortion, or a complete sham.

A culture of teamwork, collaboration, honesty, and integrity is the underpinning of project success. If everything in the project “is fine”, it’s probably not.