Flower 4 Monday

Flower.jpeg

Just wanted to share this beautiful flower that I came across on the hiking trail yesterday. 


I have never seen a flower with pedals of pink and white candy stripes like this. 


Like a candy cane or perhaps the outfits that volunteers helping people at some hospitals wear. 


It also has these yellow buds in the center, which add to it’s eloquence.


What magnificent creations that G-d has bestowed on us to enjoy. 


Hope this is a little something to cheer up your Monday and make you even more productive this week. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Third-World Office

Paper Towels.jpeg

So hooray for paper towels. 


A good workspace is definitely conducive to productivity and morale. 


That means cleanliness, open collaborative spaces, quiet work areas/offices, ample supplies, and obviously good technology. 


I’ve been in world-class institutions in terms of their mission, but that were third-world in terms of their work conditions. 


In one place, the bathroom toilets kept getting clogged with paper towels, so they got rid of them altogether, which forced the employees to use toilet seat covers for hand towels–yes, believe it!


Of course, at least we had running water, but there was also often flooding in the cubicle areas and the windows were nailed shut–high-tech security, not. 


In another place, in the private sector, I remember a new CFO coming in and being so cheap that he actually got rid of the milk and creamer from people’s coffee. 


Talking about pennywise and dollar foolish. 


Don’t these institutions get that the way you treat people impacts the way they respond to their work.


How can we be the Superpower of the planet and can’t provide decent, normal work conditions to our workers. 


It goes without saying that treating people with respect, dignity, and value should be happening all the time, but doesn’t.


We’re not even talking six-figure bonuses and stock options either–just treat people like human beings and not indentured slaves or cattle. 


Wake up America–you’re people are worth working plumbing, paper towels, and some milk and creamer for their coffees and really a heck of a lot more than that. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

What’s With All The Finger-pointing

Fingerpointing.jpeg

Have you ever seen someone point fingers at the next guy/gal (a classmate, neighbor, co-worker, or even family and friends)?


It’s the blame game, the one-upmanship, the I’m golden and your mud way of doing business–can you really push that knife in any further?


And whatever finger your pointing, frankly it might as well be your middle finger in terms of the message you are sending. 


The old saying is that when you point fingers at others, there are three fingers pointing back at you–try it with your hand now and see what I mean.


Getting the job done–means working collaboratively and cohesively–we all contribute from our unique perspectives and skills sets. 


It’s synergy where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, rather than I think I’ll take all the darn credit–hey, I really do deserve it (in my own mind anyway)! 


Really, it’s not who did what to whom, but who helped whom and giving credit amply all around.


Ultimately, when we work together, we are strong, and when we point fingers at each other, it’s because we are weak, and we are weakening our relationships and the organization. 


The only time to point a finger, for real, is when you are gesturing to the Heaven, where all blessings come and from whom we are all created in His image. 


Otherwise, keep your fingers to yourself unless your fixing something that’s broke. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Whose Throat Do You Choke

Head.jpeg

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)

Hold On To Your Jobs

img_3964

These statistics are dismal for manufacturing in the U.S. 


Today, public sector (government) employment is 22.2 million vs. just 12.2 million manufacturing jobs. 


In other words, there are 10 million or 80% more people employed by the government than making things in this country. 


This is the complete opposite from 1979 when government employed 16 million people and manufacturing had 19.6 million workers.


So just 37 years ago, manufacturing employment was 22% more than our public sector employment.


Manufacturing lost 37% of it jobs, while government grew 39%.


It hasn’t been since 1989 that there was parity at 18 million between the two sectors. 


Lest you think that the loss in manufacturing jobs is due to automation and technology, the Economic Policy Institute states unequivocally:


“Trade, not productivity, is the culprit.”


In the U.S. the annual trade deficit is over half a trillion dollars–we are hemorrhaging and no one has been even trying to stop the bleeding.  


If we send all our manufacturing prowess and capacity abroad eventually we are not only going to lose our capability to make things, our ingenuity to invent things, but our finances to pay for anything. 


Trade is a great thing when it is mutual and equal, not when it is one-sided and damaging to our economy and jobs. 


Bad political decisions mean a poorer future for our economy and our nation. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Standing Down

Stand Down.jpeg

So there is a funny term used in government, which is to “Stand down.”


Basically, it comes from the military where it has traditionally been used to denote relaxing (or “at ease”) after a prior state of alert or readiness.


Since then it has become more broadly adopted to mean abruptly ceasing activity–and usually even all further discussion–on something. 


For example, if someone is working on a project, task, or issue, but you want them to completely halt all activities on this, you may tell them to stand down.


This happens when something, usually significant, has changed or the activity has become OBE (another military term for Overcome By Events).


Basically, something has unexpectedly transpired and the strategy and orders have now changed (maybe a complete 180). 


Often, someone up the chain has put the kabbash on whatever it was.


Either way, you go from a full-on sprint to a complete halt and you might as well stand on your head for all anyone cares, because the run to the finish line, on this matter at least, is over now. 


Standing down is very different from standing up–but you aren’t sitting down either. 


Sitting would imply doing nothing at all, while standing down implies you do something else instead–like move on in the meantime to your next order of priority business. 


Still standing down, because of it’s abruptness and completeness is a big deal–and when everything and everyone was prior in motion like a moving freight train–and someone now stands in front of it and yells “All stop!”–the rest of the train cars, all the way to caboose, can essentially ram right up into the butt of the engine causing a real mess of things (productivity-wise and from a morale perspective). 


So now everyone untangle yourself and “calm the h*ll down”–there’s a new sheriff in town or new way ahead and you better get your standing down under control and stop doing whatever it is you were doing, okay there sonny boy? 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

When It Comes To Education, We’re Just Playing Around

Education Playtime.jpeg

So I overhead a conversation of 2 young women in Starbucks talking about their college education. 

One of them while acknowledging that she enjoys her classes, says, “But I still don’t feel that I am learning anything practical!”

He friends responds saying, “Yeah, all we learn is X+Y, but what does that do for us in real life?”

The first young women says, “They need to emphasize the practical things and teach us personal finances, fitness, healthy cooking, and so on.”

The second young women starts repeating, “X+Y, X+Y, that’s all they teach us!”

I couldn’t help but chuckle at this point, even though it was sort of sad. 

The education system is known to be so bad in this country, especially until you get to college. 


We’ve gone from No Child Left Behind to Every Student Succeeds, but no matter what you call it–it’s still a big C-R-I-S-I-S. 

According to Ranking America, the US ranks 14 out of 40 countries in education–behind Netherlands and Poland.

Moreover, we rank 2nd in ignorance about social statistics like teen pregnancy, unemployment rates, and voting patterns. 

Moreover, we are falling behind in our competitiveness ranking in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and are now 27th in math and 20th in science out of 34 countries.

We can’t innovate, improve productivity, and effectively compete if we are just playing around with our education system. 

If we don’t change, X+Y may soon equal the bottom of the education barrel. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)