Driving Your Organization Off A Cliff

Cliff.jpeg

So life is generally supposed to be a series a peaks and valleys. 


There are highs, but also lows.  


No one and nothing can perform at peak all the time. 


Like the commandment to keep the Shabbat, everyone needs a rest. 


And studies have shown that getting a healthy dose of sleep, pause, and rest in life is healthy.


When we force ourselves or others to perform past their “designed” limits, then we risk a breakdown. 


Machines break and people can break. 


The risks are either explosion or implosion: some people can frighteningly “go postal” and others end up on psychiatric medication or even sick and in the hospital. 


What is key to remember is that you can push the limits of performance so far, but then no further without a healthy, recuperative rest period and down time. 


If you want to raise the bar on yourself, others, or your organization, you need to do it strategically so there is a surge forward and then a normative recovery and energy buildup again. 


As we all know, life is a marathon and not a sprint, and the journey is as important as the destination. 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Alan Levine)

Shout, Let It All Out or Shut Up and Take 10

Shout, Let It All Out or Shut Up and Take 10

I like this photo…”I don’t know what we’re yelling about!!”

On one hand, some people may yell out of frustration or anger–because they feel terribly wronged or even abused by someone else (i.e. they feel a “righteous anger”).

On the other hand, others may yell because they are mentally unstable or just can’t handle their sh*t (i.e. “they are losing it”).

Some may yell like in martial arts training to scare the other person and get them to back off. I remember someone telling me back in NYC that if you’re about to be attacked, start to talk to yourself, act crazy, foam at the mouth, and yell…this way maybe they will leave you alone (i.e. “they’ll look for an easier target”).

While some studies are saying that yelling is becoming less of a problem, the sheer number of articles on this topic tell a different story. From yelling at your children to yelling at your employees, the yelling phenomenon is alive and well.

Parents are yelling more, maybe to avoid spanking, which is now more a social taboo. Studies show that 75% of parents scream at their kids about once a month–this includes shouting, cursing, calling them “lazy,” “stupid,” or otherwise belittling and blaming them. The problem is that yelling only makes the kids depressed, angrier, and creates more behavioral problems, not less.

In this way, shouting at children is no different than physically abusing them (e.g. hitting, pushing, etc.)

Similarly, when superiors or customers scream at employees, the workers feel they are in an out of control situation where they are powerless. There are numerous negative impacts that this has on them, including problems with memory, reduced creativity, worse performance, and higher turnover rates.

While some people may not resort to actual yelling in the workplace, they instead do “silent yelling–sending flaming emails, making faces or otherwise denigrating employees or simply marginalizing them. In other words, they don’t yell, but rather are silent and deadly, nonetheless.

Businessweek quotes Rahm Emanuel about how he motivates people, “Sometimes–I don’t want to say scream at them–but you have to be…forceful.”

Rather than yell or scream, the common advice is to bring it down–way down–using measures from taking a deep breath to meditating, counting to ten or waiting 24 hours before responding, describing how you feel to focusing on problem-solving.

The key is to calm down, act with your brains not your brawn, and figure out how to get to the root cause of the problem and solve it.

People may raise their voice to vent or make a point, in the heat of the moment, or if they are being personally attacked, but in general, as it says in Ethics of Our Fathers, “Who is strong? One who overpowers his inclinations.” 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Soukup)

Are You A Moses or A Seagull?

I have a new article called “Leadership for Lasting Change.””Usually organizational turnaround don’t happen by themselves. They are steered by change agents, people unafraid to take the reins and move forward. Like Moses liberating the Jewish people from slavery, a strong leader shows his [/her] people the way.”Read the article at Public CIO Magazine, Winter 2012.Hope you enjoy it.

Andy

(Source Photo: here)

>CIOs, Earning The Right To Peer Parity

>

There are a lot of jokes about being a CIO—it is one of the toughest professional level jobs and has a high turnover rate (average is barely 24 months according to Public CIO Magazine 2009)—hence the moniker “Career Is Over.”

Depending on the organization, CIO’s may be up against a host of daunting challenges—the fast pace of technological change, an organizational culture that can’t or doesn’t want to keep up, resource constraints, inflated expectations, vague requirements, and shifting priorities.

On top of these, the CIO is typically last in the executive pecking order, and so carries less authority than his/her peers. This is the subject of an article in the Wall Street Journal, 24 May 2010, called “Why CIOs Are Last Among Equals.”

According to the article, “most CIOs don’t have the broad business understanding, strategic vision and interpersonal skills that it takes to runs a company.”

The authors call out the following common CIO deficiencies:

  1. Leadership—“Too many CIOs and IT managers fail to take the lead in determining how technology can help the company,” instead relying on those outside the IT department.
  2. Strategic Thinking—“IT managers are seriously deficient in their knowledge of strategy,” most can’t articulate their organizations or IT’s strategy, “and (they) don’t appreciate the importance of strategy in guiding both long-term and short-term actions.”
  3. Communication Skills—“IT people don’t communicate effectively due to the absence of good questioning, listening, and sales skills.”
  4. Influence Skills—“Most CIOs are not good at marketing themselves and their IT organizations…[they] need to be out in front of every major technology, educating their senior corporate team on what it does and what it means for the company.”
  5. Relationship Skills—“IT managers know what characterizes strong relationships, but lack the skills to build such relationships at work.”

While, of course, these deficiencies do not apply to all CIOs—i.e. they are generalities—they are indicative of where as a profession IT and leadership need to focus on and look for ongoing improvement.

Clearly, IT leaders must be not only experts in the technology and operations, but must become true strategic leaders of the organization, able to formulate a way-ahead, articulate it, build consensus around it, and drive it to a successful execution. Keeping the proverbial IT “lights on” is no longer a viable CIO option.

What got us into this situation?

In my opinion, the notion of promoting for technical skills alone is mistaken. Rather, we need a holistic approach that emphasizes what I call “The Total CIO,” which is broad-based and includes the people, process, AND technology skills to truly see the big picture, and know how to drive real change.

While technology operations is critical for keeping our organizations running, they must be supported by strategic IT functions, such as those that I have called for in “The CIO Support Services Framework” including: enterprise architecture, IT governance, project management, customer relationship management, IT security, and performance management.

I believe that the leadership skills of “The Total CIO” and the strategic support functions of “The CIO Support Services Framework” will drive us to successfully progress our organizations, “earn our daily keep,” and achieve the right to peer parity based on executive skills and competencies that are expected and necessary.