Whose Throat Do You Choke

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So this was an interesting term that I heard about getting people to take responsibility for their actions.


“Whose throat do I choke for this?”


Sounds a little severe, no?


I think this is partially an adverse reaction to “analysis paralysis” and “death by committee” — where no decisions can ever get made. 


And organizations where lack of accountability runs rampant and it’s more about finger pointing at each other, rather than owning up to your responsibilities, decisions, and actions.


So with dysfunctional  organizations, the pendulum swings aimlessly being no accountability and the ultimate chopping block. 


But choking off the life blood of our human capital certainly isn’t conducive to innovation, exploration, and discovery or to productivity, employee morale and retention.


So when it’s simple human error with our best effort and no bad intentions, how about we say a simple “Who done it this time,” do a post-action, figure out the valuable lessons learned, and resolve how we do better going forward. 


No throats or heads necessary (most of time). 🙂


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Hope vs. Change

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So we were promised hope and change, but what’s the difference?


Daniel Henninger in the Wall Street Journal says, “Hope is the helium -filled ballon of politics. Governing in office is the gravity that pulls it back down to earth.”


Many politicians are giving the false impression that “giving people the rhetoric of hope, lifting them with words, is more important than delivering results, which some might call change.”


Despair is when we are told that there is hope and promise, but we don’t get meaningful, impactful, and lasting positive change.


The hard work of leadership is not just providing a beautiful Garden of Eden vision for people to salivate over and to get their votes, but rather it is making something REAL happen that makes people’s lives and the world better. 


As they say is plain english, “Words are cheap!”


We don’t need any more fancy oratory skills–Hitler had those too and it led to the murderous genocidal Holocaust and disaster of World War II. 


Time for some elbow grease and some results that aren’t fake like the news we’ve been getting. 


We’ve heard too many lies, too much spin, and been subjected to language control of the “media echo chamber.”


Just one prominent example has been regarding terrorism and radical Islam which is not and never has been “workplace violence” and traffic accidents. 


Who is the President of the U.S. fooling when he says that theres been “no foreign-planned terror attacks in 8 years.”


Gee, ISIS and their numerous terror supporters seem to violently disagree about the many terrorist attacks we indeed did have on U.S. soil in the last 8-years, including Orlando, Garland, Fort Hood, San Bernardino, MinnesotaOhio University, and many more.  


It’s time that we stop being fed a bunch of false hope and political malarkey and instead we get some genuine change, improvement, and progress in our lives and the nation. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Like A Rock Star

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It’s funny that people derive so much of their self esteem from others. 



If someone says something nice to/about them, then they feel on top of the world–full of worth, productive, successful, confident.



And when someone says something negative, then they get down in the dumps–depreciated, questioning, can’t do anything right, like a failure.



Yet, it the same person inside–the same heart, the same soul.



Of course, we are impacted by our behavior (when we do good and not) and people’s reactions to it–and we should be–it’s a helpful feedback mechanism to let us know when we are messing up or as reinforcement to continue doing good things. 



But at the same time, people’s feedback is not always correct or well-intentioned and certainly it doesn’t necessarily represent holistically who we are…it’s just a snapshot in time. 



So we need to take what people say and reflect back to us with a grain of salt–listen, try to understand, but also look at the bigger picture of you. 



You know yourself better than anyone else, so incorporate the feedback and use it to improve, but don’t get bogged down by any person, event, or cheap talk.  



Yes, you can be a rock star, by reflecting from what others tell you, but more importantly by listening to that voice inside that guides you. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

10 Ways To Improve Federal Technology

10 Ways To Improve Federal Technology

While it’s good to improve government services through advances in information technology, we also need to do better with what we have, which is our own valuable IT human capital.

In the Wall Street Journal today, the “health-site woes” are spurring a push for changes to federal technology, including the possibility of a “federal unit dedicated to big tech projects.”

Whether or not we carve our a separate big tech project unit, we can do so much to improve success in all our agencies by valuing our people and motivating them to succeed.

As democracy and capitalism have taught us, we need people to be free to innovate and reward them appropriately.

While the grass may look greener in Silicon Valley, our challenge is to utilize all our resources in whatever part of the country they reside, whether they be government or private sector workers.

Ultimately, like most things, this is a human challenge, and not just a technology issue.

Hence, I developed the above comic strip to demonstrate 10 Ways to Improve Federal Technology, so we can all succeed together. 😉

(Source Cartoon [click here to enlarge]: Andy Blumenthal)

The Measure Of A Person

The Measure Of A Person

Another candidate for picture of the week.

This guy is wearing “tape measure” suspenders.

Oh, how fashionable!

While the true measure of a person is their good deeds and relationships (to man and G-d), perhaps the suspenders is a reminder that we should take the time to stop and measure ourselves both quantitatively and qualitatively in our lives.

As we approach the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, a time of introspection and judgement, it is a good opportunity to take measure.

Performance management is not just for work–we can look at ourselves both personally and professionally and commit to do better.

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

Government By Decision

What Is Your Decision?

I saw this bumper sticker on a pole in Washington, D.C.

It says “Puppet for President 2012” and I don’t know whether this was referring to Democrats, Republicans, Independents, or whoever.

But it did make a statement about the perceived ability of government to lead and perhaps that someone is “pulling the strings.”

Governance is the act of administering, managing and of course implies leadership and decision-making.

Yet what is driving the American people crazy is that our government seems for all intensive purposes broken, almost paralyzed.

Current reading are of political stalemate, problems that are too big and complex and the compromises too painful after years of excess, where indecision reigns supreme, and with that the popularity of government is at all time lows–10% for Congress and 36% for the President.

Here’s a basic example written about today in the Wall Street Journal: despite a drop in first class mail over the last decade (thanks to email and texting) from 100 billion to fewer than 70 billion pieces of first class mail and cumulative losses from 2006 to March 2013 of $41 billion, we still can’t decide whether to cut Saturday mail delivery that could save over $3 billion a year alone.

Other examples of government indecision are almost too numerous to name:

– Should we intervene in Syria’s civil war that has taken more than 100,000 lives and displaced millions?

– When should we take action against Iranian nuclear facilities that violate nuclear non-proliferation and threaten world peace?

– How should we handle militant Islamic and Al Qaeda threats that don’t seem to dissipate?

– What do we do about the mounting federal deficit with a national debt approaching $17 trillion that is still rising about $2 billion a day!

– With fiscal cliffs, debt ceiling, sequestrations, and cuts to the U.S. credit rating, can we find our way forward?

– What should we do to get people back to work with an employment level of 58.6%, still around the lowest in the last 30 years?

– How do we reign in entitlement spending that needy people depend on, but where nearly half (49%) of Americans households today receive transfer payments, and entitlement spending has risen to $2.3 trillion annually and now are over 60% of entire federal outlays.

– How do we improve morale of the U.S. middle-class when only 33% think their children will be better off than their parents?

– What should we do about so many hanging issues out there–immigration reform, spiraling health care costs, improving our education system, balancing surveillance and privacy, and much more?

However, the ultimate question really is whether no decision is better than a decision?

With no decision, the problems continue to escalate until they sort of magically go away on their own (they are “overcome by events”) or more ominously, they reach epic crisis proportions.

With a decision to act, we may make good decisions that positively impact the situation or we may make bad decisions that have a negative impact, but even with a bad decision, we can monitor the effects and course-correct until we show true improvement.

Decisions often mean winners and losers–and no one wants to lose anything–and there are lobbyists and special interest groups–and no one wants to be voted out of office…so what do we do?

Oh no, I can’t decide!

The reality is that we will will have to make hard decisions or they will be made for us–we will either be the masters of our own fate of the slaves of our indecision.

We can take back control and fix what is broken or wallow in despair and disrepair.

We can act now or kick the can down the road and have much more painful decisions later.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Difficult Employees x 7

Difficult Employees x 7

So I was learning about some management best practices in terms of there being 7 major types of difficult employees:

  1. Challengers–employees that are oppositional; they resent authority, are disrespectful and confrontational.
  2. Clingers–people who are overly dependent; they are uncertain about what to do, fearful of making a mistake, withhold their opinions and may harbor deep resentments.
  3. Drama Queens/Kings–these folks crave attention; they can be found spreading gossip and rumors and making dramatic pronouncements both professional and personal.
  4. Loners–people who like to be left alone; they tend to hover over their computers and avoid personal interactions.
  5. Power Grabbers–staff that tend to get into power struggles with their boss; they ignore instructions and resist direction.
  6. Slackers–those who don’t do the work they are supposed to do; they tend to linger on break, calls, or the Internet or be out of the office altogether.
  7. Space Cadets–employees whose minds and discussion always seem to be in la-la-land; they tend to be off topic and impractical.

Obviously, each presents a unique set of management challenges, but one of the most important things a manager can do is focus on specific behaviors and the impact of those on the quality/quantity of work and on the organization, and work with the employee whether through coaching, counseling, mentoring, or training on how to improve their performance.

It should never be about the manager and the employee, but rather about the results and the outcomes. Keep it objective, be empathetic, document the issues, and work in earnest with the person to improve (where possible).

Difficult employees are not evil characters (or villains) like in the James Bond movies, but rather humans being that need inspiration, collaboration, guidance, feedback, and occasionally when appropriate, a change in venue–where a square peg can fit in a square hole. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)