Braving Trust and Credibility

So I thought this was really good from a colleague this week. 


How to build trust and credibility in the workplace:


Credibility is about being “convincing and believable” and results from “expertise and experience.”


Trust is believing strongly in the honesty, reliability, character, and effectiveness of a person.”


BRAVING


Boundaries – Have good boundaries–respecting yours and having my own; show others respect in words and deeds. 


Reliability – Be someone who is both reliable (can be counted on)  and is authentic.


Accountability – Hold others and yourself accountable; we all own our mistakes, apologize and make amends. 


Vault – Keep information in confidence.


Integrity – Hold courage over comfort; choose what’s right over what’s fun, easy or fast; practice and not just profess values. 


Non-judgmental – Believe the best in people even when they occasionally disappoint you. 


Generosity – Offer and ask for help from others, and give generously of yourself in time and effort. 


No offense to anyone…the last thing they said was a little spicy for the workplace (but I know it was meant well):  “Good conversation with others should be like a miniskirt–short enough to retain interest and long enough to cover the topic.” 😉


(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

How Stupid Can Metro Be

Reckless Metro.jpeg

While Metro has been touting its Get Back to Good (“Back2Good“) plan and campaign, unfortunately, it is still continuing to mess up big and stupid. 


Part of Metro’s hailed upgrades is to the new 7000-series trains. 


They look better than the old crappy and filthed up train cars from before–including the extremely worn and ripped icky orange seats and carpets.


In that respect, the stainless and more modern-looking replacement trains are most welcome.


However, check out the negligent and hazardous middle doors on many of these train cars. 


Do you see the absolutely stupid handle bars that jut out into the oft busy entry-exit passenger doors. 


Yesterday, I got caught in a mob racing out of one of the train cars, and my upper thigh got danged and good on these ridiculous and reckless handlebars in the doorway! 


Who would put these jutting out into a doorframe???


Anyway, my leg is red, swollen, painful, and I am limping good from this. 


Hey, is there a good personal injury lawyer out there on the web that works on commission (lol, I think)?


I am so grateful to G-d if this doesn’t end up messing with my hip replacement. 


What is it about Metro that they just seem to act brainless with the basics. 


This was supposed to the year of getting back to track safety and train reliability (getting the trains on time), but I guessed they seriously missed the train safety part!


Oh by the way, the reliability isn’t all that “good” either (forget great…they gave up on that a while ago)!  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Can You Trust Social Media?

Can You Trust Social Media?

Interesting article in BBC about a project underway to develop a system that will rate information on the Internet as trustworthy or not.

Considering how quickly we get information from the Net and how easy it is to start crazy rumors, manipulate financial investors, or even cause a near panic, it would be good to know whether the source is legitimate and the information has been validated.

Are we simply getting someone mouthing off on their opinions or what they think may happen or perhaps they are unknowingly spreading false information (misinformation) or even purposely doing it (disinformation)?

Depending how the Internet is being used–someone may be trying to get the real word out to you (e.g. from dissidents in repressive regimes) or they may be manipulating you (e.g. hackers, criminals, or even terrorists).

To have a reliable system that tells us if information being promulgated is good or not could add some credibility and security online.

What if that system though itself is hacked? Then lies can perhaps be “verified” as truth and truth can be discredited as falsehood.

The Internet is dangerous terrain, and as in the life in general, it is best to take a cautious approach to verify source and message.

The next cyber or kinetic attack may start not with someone bringing down the Internet, but rather with using it to sow confusion and disarm the masses with chaos. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

At The Speed Of Innovation

Mars_explorer

Here are three perspectives on how we can speed up the innovation cycle and get great new ideas to market more quickly:

1) Coordinating R&D–While competition is a good thing in driving innovation, it can also be hinder progress when we are not sharing good ideas, findings, and methods in a timely manner–in a sense we are having to do the same things multiple times, by different entities, and in some more and other in less efficient ways wasting precious national resources. Forbes (10 February 2012) describes the staggering costs in pharmaceutical R&D such that despite about $800 billion invested in drug research between 2007-2011, only 139 new drugs came out the pipeline. Bloomberg BusinessWeek (29 Nov 2012) notes that for “every 5,000 to 10,000 potential treatments discovered in the lab, only one makes it to market” and out of the pharmaceutical “valley of death.” The medical research system is broken because “there ultimately no one in charge.”  The result is that we are wasting time and money “funding disparate studies and waiting for researchers to publish results months or years later.” If instead we work towards our goals collaboratively and share results immediately then we could potentially work together rather than at odds. The challenge in my mind is that you would need to devise a fair and profitable incentive model for both driving results and for sharing those with others–this is similar to a clear mandate of together we stand, divided we fall. 

2) “Rapid Fielding”–The military develops large and complex weapon systems and this can take too long for the warfighters who need to counter evolving daily threats on the battlefield. Federal Computer Week (19 July 2001) emphasizes this point when it states, “Faster acquisition methods are needed to counter an improvised explosive device that tends to evolve on a 30-day cycle or a seven-year process for replacing a Humvee.” There according to the Wall Street Journal (11 December 2012) we need to move to a model that more quickly bring new innovative technologies to our forces.  The challenge is to do this with reliable solutions while at the same time fast tracking through the budgeting, acquisition, oversight, testing, and deployment phases. The question is can we apply agile development to military weapons systems and live with 70 to 80% solutions that we refine over time, rather than wait for perfection out of the gate.

3) Seeds and Standards–To get innovation out in the hands of consumers, there is a change management process that needs to occur. You are asking people to get out of their comfort zone and try something new. According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek (17 December 2012) on an article of how bar codes changed the world–it comes down to basics like simplicity and reliability of the product itself, but also seeding the market and creating standards for adoption to occur. Like with electric automobiles, you need to seed the market with tax incentives for making the initial purchases of hybrids or plug-in electric vehicles–to get things going as well as overset the initial development expense and get to mass development and cheaper production. Additionally, we need standards to ensure interoperability with existing infrastructure and other emerging technologies. In the case of the electric automobiles, charging stations need to be deployed across wide swathes of the country in convenient filling locations (near highways, shopping, and so on) and they need to be standards-based, so that the charger at any station can fit in any electronic vehicle, regardless of the make or model. 

Innovation is the lifeblood of our nation in keeping us safe, globally competitive, and employed.  Therefore, these three ideas for enhancing collaboration, developing and fielding incremental improvements through agile methodologies, and fostering change with market incentives and standards are important ideas to get us from pure exploration to colonization of the next great world idea. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

I’ll Take The Stairs

Elevator_outage

Woke up this morning to the elevator being out of service–again (and this was the sign that was up)!

Thank G-d our automobiles and airplanes aren’t as unreliable (generally).

Anyway, I didn’t mind walking a little more, and I got a chuckle out of this sign.

Of course, less funny this morning was news of Microsoft’s $6.2 billion! dollar writedown on their Internet division.

For a long time, Microsoft has been waiting for the elevator to pick them up and take them to virtual heaven, but instead everyday they try to buy (e.g. aQuantive for $6.3 billion all cash in 2007) their way there, and they end up in a place a lot hotter and nastier.

Microsoft can still make a comeback, but it’s past time for them to unleash their creative juices again.

What type of name is Bing (bing-bong) for a search engine, anyway? 😉

Now That’s Flexible

This couch should be the poster child for flexibility.Absolutely incredible.

It weights about 40 lbs and extends like an accordian in just about any configuration you can imagine.

One minute it’s a chair, a bench, a love seat, a couch–it’s straight, curvy, a circle–it’s short, it’s long–whatever you want.

This is what we should aim for–whether it’s with technology, leadership, or life–flexibility to meet the needs of the occasion.

Like this couch–be flexible and adaptable yet stable and reliable–and you will amaze!

>Why Reputation Is The Foundation For Innovation

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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.”