Service From Yourself

Service From Yourself

I was so proud this week to see some true customer service excellence from a colleague.

Someone had run out of toner and they had put in a help desk ticket to get it replaced.

In the meantime, there was a large order of toner on order, but it was still a day or two out from delivery.

So my colleague responsible for this area took his own toner out of his printer and gave it to the person who was out.

I got a wonderful email thanking us for the unbelievable customer service.

Honestly, there are other printers that the person could have used in the meantime, but this person went above and beyond to keep the customer working and happy.

Great lesson in customer service and exemplary behavior here. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Lie Of the Open Workspace

The Lie Of the Open Workspace

There are so many workplace liars—the problem is many of them are experienced and good at selling you a bunch of malarkey.

Often, they tell you what they want, either to save the company money or to make themselves look innovative, but either way it’s inevitably at your cost.

One of these lies is from chieftains that tell you’ll be better off working in an open workspace–i.e. thrown into a corporate bullpen.

Oh, by the way, vacate your office by Friday!

Sure there are a plethora of benefits to having common spaces to share ideas and open up communications—and these should be plentiful and stocked with comfy sofas, energy-inducing munchables, and ample white boards and tech gear to facilitate collaboration.

But when the pendulum swings all the way to the other side, and your personal office space become a hoteling situation, you know you are losing out to penny-pinching executives, who want to save on leasing office space, furniture, and the like in order to boost their personal bonuses at the end of the year.

Just ask yourself:

– Do people need privacy to handle sensitive personnel, budget, contracting, and strategic planning and execution issues (as well as occasional family or personal issues—we are all human)?

– Do you need time to close the door for some quiet time to think, innovate, and catch up on work?

– Is there a genuine human need to have a place to put your work and personal things to be productive and comfortable?

The truth is that people need and deserve a balanced work environment—one where people can move healthily between closed and open spaces, individual work and teamwork, privacy and sharing, creativity and productivity, individualism and conformity, comfort and cost-savings.

Anyone that tells you that people work better in a fully open environment where you have to book up a desk and computer is selling you on short-term organizational cost-savings at the expense of longer-term human capital satisfaction and productivity.

Next time, a “leader” tries to convince you of the merits of your not having a professional workspace, desk, computer, and so on—ask yourself whether you want to work in a Motel 6 every day or for a stable organization that values and invests in it people.

An appropriate blended environment of open and closed work spaces, where it shows that you are empowered and valued is a career, and not just a job;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to epochgraphics)

Nasty Flu Shot

Nasty Flu Shot

I took my daughter for a flu shot last evening.

We went through the typical drawn-out paperwork and long wait to get something so routine.

When the medical practitioner finally arrived with the flu shot, there was a little baggy with all the acoutrements including alcohol wipe, band-aid, cotton, etc.

As the lady starts taking out the items to get ready for giving the shot, she drops the cotton on the floor.

She picks it up quickly, and pretending we didn’t see, she quickly throws it back on the medical tray.

Now I am watching…

She open the band-aid and places it at the ready on the side.

Then she get the syringe AND the cotton that had just fallen on the floor, ready in hand.

As she is about to give the shot, I say, “You’re not going to use the cotton on my daughter that just fell on the floor, are you?”

Her eyes look askance and she throws the cotton back down on the tray, and says, “Oh, of course not.”

I spoke with my daughter afterwards about this as it was hard to understand how a medical practitioner could on one hand, be administering a helpful medicine to a patient, and at the same time, was about to use a dirty cotton on the wound afterwards.

What happened to people actually caring about people and taking pride in the jobs they do, rather than just being in it for the paycheck only?

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Sun Dazed)

Being Yourself Is a Full-Time Job


There is a saying that “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

But over time and a level of professional maturity, I’ve learned that rather than act, there are times when the more prudent thing is too hold your tongue and your will to take immediate action.

In the Revolutionary War, they said, “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes.”

Back then, the strategy was employed to conserve ammunition, and today, similarly, it is way to preserve relationships and manage conflicts.

Indeed, sometimes, it’s harder to do nothing than to do something–when we are charged up in the moment, it takes a strong leader to keep their head–and hold back the troops and the potential ensuing fire–and instead focus on keeping the peace and finding a genuine resolution to tough and perhaps persistent problems.

An important exception is when ethics and social justice is involved then everyone must find their inner voice and speak up for what is right–that is not the time for a wait and see approach.

The lesson for me is that while it can be challenging to at times hold your fire, and at other times to find your inner voice and speak out–this is where sound judgment and willpower come into play.

In this light, I said to my daughter that “It is sometimes hard just to be yourself.” To which she replied wisely, “yeah, and it’s a full-time job too.” 😉

She’s right–we have to be ourselves and follow our conscience all the time–whether it means taking the shot or holding our fire.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Oh Candy)

>Leadership Should Integrate Spirituality and Mission

>I remember learning in religious day school that people are half spiritual beings and half animal and that it was a person’s duty (or test in life) to imbue the carnal part of our existence with spirituality.

It was nice to see a book today that brought this topic home; it is called “G-d is My CEO” by Larry Julian.

The premise of the book is that “we usually want to do the right thing, but often succumb to the short-term, bottom line demands of daily business life.”

Julian states: “The bottom line had become their G-d. It was insatiable. No matter how hard they worked, it was never enough, nor would it ever be enough.”

As I see it, people have two faces (or more) and one is their weekend persona that is family and G-dly oriented and the other is the one for the rest of the week—for business—that is driven by materialism, accomplishment, and desire for personal success.

This is where the test of true leadership comes into play.

We can and must do better in our business lives by “doing the right thing regardless of the outcome” and “expanding the definition of success from making money to making a difference.”


We’re all experts at making excuses, why we need to be successful in business, achieve results, make lots of money, get the next promotion (and the next and the next) and that “the end justifies the means; you get to the outcome regardless of how you accomplish it”!

In Information Technology, it’s no different than in any other business function. It’s a competitive environment and most of the time, people’s raw ambitions are somewhat obscured (but still operating there) and occasionally you see the worst come out in people—not working together (like system operating in stovepipes), or worse criticizing, bad-mouthing, and even back stabbing.

As a CIO or CTO, we must rise above this and lead by a different set of principles. To this end, I like the “Servant Leadership” doctrine put forward by Julian.

In short, the servant leader, leads by example and puts people first and in essence, spiritually elevates the baser ambitions of people.

The servant leader is “one who serves others, not one who uses others. He/she “serves employees so they can serve others.”

“When we [as leaders] serve others, we help them succeed” and thereby we can accomplish the mission even better than pure individual greed ever could.


The CIO/CTO can lead people, modernize and transform the enterprise with innovation and technology, to accomplish the mission better than ever and we can do it by integrating spirituality and kindness to people into what we do every day in our working lives.

Unfortunately, IT organizations are often run not by elevating people and making them significant, but instead by running them into the ground. The mission is demanding the latest and greatest to stay competitive. The technology is changing rapidly. IT specialists are challenged to keep up with training on new hardware, programming languages, systems development and project management techniques, best practice frameworks, and so forth, The Help Desk and Desktop support people are routinely yelled at by the customers. Security and privacy issues are a constant threat to operations. IT is denigrated as a support function, whose people don’t understand the business; IT is viewed as a utility and it’s people often pushed out for outsourcing.

Truly, in this type of demanding and challenging environment, it is tough for any IT organization and its people to maintain their dignity and spirituality. But that is precisely where the CIO/CTO must lead and demonstrate humanity and care for people. The true IT leader will impose structures to create order out of chaos and in so doing elevate people as the critical asset they truly are to the organization.

Here’s some ways we can do this:

  1. Treat all employees with respect and dignity by representing their interests in the organization, as well as abiding by at the very least minimal standards of professionalism and courtesy
  2. Partner with the business so that it’s not us versus them, but just one big US.
  3. Develop a meaningful architecture plan and sound IT governance so everyone understands the way ahead and is working off the “same sheet of music.”
  4. Manage business expectations—don’t overpromise and under deliver, which leads to frustration and anger; instead set challenging but attainable goals.
  5. Filter requirements through a “single belly button” of seasoned business liaisons, so that the rank and file employees aren’t mistreated for doing their sincere best.
  6. Provide training and tools for people to do their jobs and stay current and understand not only the technology, but the business.

Through these and other servant leader examples, we can integrate our spiritual and material lives and be the types of leaders that not only deliver, but that we can really be proud to be.