Wouldn’t You Like To Be A Govie Too

govie

Some people have a negative perception of government workers (“govies”).  


They think that it’s just a cushy job with a lot of free time and benefits. 


Sort of like the photo above with the lady streched out over her laptop, eyes half shut, and with the lightbulb above her head–thinking up great ideas for running the government and regulating the people. 


Ah, no–it’s not like that at all. 


Okay, maybe a little for some people. 


Having been in both the private and public sectors about 40-60 of my career, I can tell you that there is plenty of unproductiveness (i.e. dead weight) wherever you go. 


But there is also a lot of hardworking (some super hardworking) and really smart people too. 


Yes, there are meetings (lots of them) and paperwork (piled high), but there is also a good amount of out-of-the-box thinking and trying to figure out how to do more with the same or less.  


There is also some really big thinking like how to win the next Big One (i.e. war), how to protect the country from deadly terrorism, disasters, weapons of mass destruction, and cyber attack, how to partner with others around the world to achieve big ambitious projects and peace, how to colonize outer space, protect the environment, and improve the economy, healthcare, education, and so much more. 


Not all the big thinking is good thinking–some of it is unrealistic, biased towards this or that constituency, counterproductive, or even corrupt. 


But many govies really do want to do a great job and save the world!


If you think there isn’t plenty of hard work, passion, dedication–you’re wrong.


If you think, everyone is doing the right thing for the right reasons–your delusional.


Like with people all over the world, there’s a mix of good and some not so good, but overall, there is lots of opportunity to lead, problem solve, and do good and great things with real effect, nationally and globally. 


And if for that alone, being a govie is an amazing career move where you can have an influence on matters of tremendous importance and lasting impact. 


Wild perceptions and pictures can be deceiving–instead think about the hero that you can and want to be. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Creation and Time Management

Embroidery

This is a photo of a beautiful embroidery.

It is called “Creation” by Leonard Nierman. 

Really liked it!

Also, wanted to share something funny I heard from a colleague about time management (as learned at DoD).

It doesn’t have to do with creation being 6 days and on the 7th day, G-d rested and it was good. 

Rather it had to do with being on time (or not) as follows:

“If you’re on time, you’re late.  If you’re 10 minutes early, you’re on time.”

Wish that was standard fare. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Death To PowerPoint

Death By PowerPoint

Ok, we’ve all heard of “Death by PowerPoint” (well, I’m advocating death to PowerPoint). 


It’s the unfortunate occurrence that happens when a speaker presents a wad too many slides (OMG, some people seem to go on and on forever –get them off that podium)!


Or when they present too much information, too little information, or just don’t know what or how to present at all. 


Their (slide) presentations leave the audience basically wanting to just kill themselves, if not the inconsiderate S.O.B. speaker.


But aside from lousy speakers, you have a crappy presentation mechanism, which is PowerPoint slides.


Hello out there, tell the truth…


Can any of you remember much of a darn thing that anyone has ever conveyed to you by PowerPoint?


Think of webinars, conferences, and meetings galore with slide after slide of 2-dimensional boredom.


Is your head hurting you yet or are you just glad you can’t remember any of it–natural selection of memory saves you the pain…why thank you.


Then consider what someone has told you in great thoughtfulness, confidence, or with genuine passion, caring and sincerity.


– Perhaps, the wisdom of a parent or teacher who took you aside to tell you a life’s lesson.


– Or a Rabbi or Priest who shared with you something spiritual and uplifting to guide you on your path.


– How about someone in the office who was passionate about an idea or project and who motivated you as well.


Most of the communication between people that really means something never makes it to a PowerPoint slide.


Imagine for a moment, if something meaningful was conveyed to you by slide presentation–you would think, how ridiculous it is to use PowerPoint for that?


– I love you–will you marry me?


– We’re having a baby, how wonderful. 


– Just got that promotion, yes!


– So and so is sick or just passed away, how terrible. 


PowerPoint just doesn’t happen here in real life–thank G-d!


And no matter how much organizations such as TED would like to make a (show)business out of presentations using PowerPoint…(ah, nope).


Real communication happens when one person talks from the heart to another person who receives it in their heart. 


The greatest orators in history…never used a slide presentation.


Other presentation products like Prezi tried to take slides to the next level with a storytelling format using a virtual canvas, but that didn’t pan out to well either…see many Prezis lately (and without getting dizzy)?


PowerPoint slides, and the like, are for distraction…now I don’t have to pay that much attention to the rambling, numbnut speaker anymore.


The bottom line…we don’t listen with our eyes!


Rather, we hear words of wisdom and see when someone is genuine, sincere and worth listening to.


The rest is PowerPoint… 😉

Where Did I Put That Action Memo?

Desk Piled High
Lots of people desks seem to look like this.

(Not me though…compulsive neat freak and learned from IBM’s “clean desk policy” early on in my career.)

In analyzing our fight against Islamic jihadists and terrorists, Daniel Henninger in the Wall Street Journal writes:

“In all the photos published of al Qaeda, Islamic State or any other terror groups, have you ever seen them sitting at desks?”

Henninger points out the root of “Bureaucracy” is the French word “Bureau,” which mean desk.

Hence, we in the West are stuck behind desks, while the terrorists are actively working to destroy our freedom and way of life–smashing down doors and wielding AK47s and suicide vests!

We’ve got to stop hiding behind our piled-high desks, analysis-paralysis position papers, endless meetings, and political bickering, and actually do something concrete, meaningful, and strong–to not only deter, but destroy the enemy!

Fear of making a decision or nonsense claims that your still searching for that action memo is something that should get you uprooted from your messy desk with a boot up your a*s!

Wake up, wake up, wake up–enough ho hum, we need some leadership that is bold, patriotic, and heroic to protect what we value so dear.

Don’t you think it’s time to win this war for real?

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Shawn de Raaf)

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)

When All Is Not Green

Guide_post

It’s tough to get the truth from people in the organization as to how things are really going.

Are their programs successful or not, is everything okay on their staff, will they–without fudging the numbers–meet their performance goals and targets (if they have any), and so on. 

People are afraid if they made a mistake or something isn’t working as intended that they will be in trouble.  

Maybe they will be yelled at, lose authority and power, be sidelined, demoted, or even fired; and their organizations may be downsized, outsourced, consolidated with another, or outright eliminated. 

So people hide the facts and the truth–as if, what they don’t know, can’t harm me.

So everything appears copasetic in organization-land!

But the truth is we need a solid guidepost to know where we are going, which paths are safe, and which are fraught with danger–and that is anchored in open and honest communication. . 

There is a great story about this in Bloomberg BusinessWeek (15 November 2012) about how in 2006, when ex-Boeing executive, Alan Mulally took over as CEO of Ford–and Ford was bleeding red ink, facing their largest loss for automobiles in history of $17 billion, that at the executive Thursday morning meetings, the performance scorecard for their initiatives “was a sea of green.”

Here the company is bordering on financial collapse, but the executives are reporting–all clear!

The story goes that Mark Fields, head of Ford’s North American business stepped up and showed the first red revealing a problem with a problem tailgate latch on their new Edge SVU that would halt production. 

With the room filled with tension, Alan Mulally rather than get mad and castigate or punish the executive, what did he do–he clapped!

Mulally said: “Great visibility. Is there anything we can do to help you?”

And what ultimately happened to Mark Fields, the executive who told the truth about problems in his area of responsibility?  

Last month, “Ford’s board elevated him to chief operating officer,” which analysts read as a sign that he will be the next CEO when Mulally is supposed to retire at the end of 2014.

The bottom line is that we cannot fix problems if we can’t identify them and face up to them with our people. 

While we need good data and sound analysis to identify problems in the organization, problems will remain illusive without the trust, candor, and teamwork to ultimately come to terms with them and solve them.

I love this story about Ford and think it is a model for us in leadership, communication, and performance management. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)