Monday, February 24, 2014

The Innovation Myth

The Olympics have come and gone (seemingly with little fanfare). The popularity of the pinnacle of amateur sports may be waning because the events are not shown live in prime time. The "get there first" amateur journalists that flood social media make it impossible to enjoy anything that has already happened. No need to DVR the game or your favorite show... your unemployed uncle live tweeted it with a bong in his lap at 4am.

I, for one, was massively inspired by the 2014 Winter Olympic games. There are a millions lessons in humility and validation that result from training 4 years for a 4 minute event. There can be no glory without sacrifice. I found it all thrilling, even if the stories I watched were 12 hours old.

"You're all carpal tunnel and ADD" - Roger Greenberg, in reference to the technology generation

I love technology as much as Kip Dynamite but too much of anything becomes exhausting. We equate innovation with technology yet those existing off-the-grind are propelling forward with great efficiency. Any system can be gamed, with structure comes the ability to adapt (and pretend), and there is nothing revolutionary about representing another person's idea as your own.

The Art of Interaction
Our skill development concentrates too much on memorization (without application). Schools are too hung up on test scores while avoiding human interaction. Every individual performer who was promoted to a management position based only on the merit of their performance results has failed.

The turning point to innovation comes upon us when we realize we are asking the wrong questions. Its not about being better, its about being different.

Be Moved to Tears
The great Jimmy Valvano had the rare opportunity to deliver his own eulogy in 1993. One of his strongest recommendations was to be moved to tears every day. We get caught up in the day-to-day details that ignite our stress: reports, schedules, personal differences, one slide in a presentation, a line on a proposal. We get so head down in the nonsense that we forget the love that surrounds us. We pace the backyard porch while our children sit inside with their faces against the window waiting to be part of our lives.

There is inspiration everywhere: You Tube, sporting events, the cinema, the theater, a bar stool conversation. We tend to neglect stepping outside of our complex little insignificant worlds to breath the air that keeps us alive.

Cut Through the Static
We put so much strategy into guessing. What will our customers say? What will the market dictate? What's the next great product? Guessing is a fools game. Pick up the phone, get to the source, and figure it out!

There is so much technology to automate humanity. This takes the chance out of things. Chance creates opportunity and is ultimately the gateway to new things. Innovation is not a technical process, it's the ability to discover a new frontier. Today, the forgotten frontier is one to one conversation.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Monday, February 17, 2014

Removing The Clutter

It is astonishing to me what sparks intrigue in social media. It seems you can write the world's most inspiring piece...and 7 people will read it. If you attack another person, or submit blanket insults, thousands will chime in.

Could it be that the attraction to social media is the ability to say from behind a keyboard what you would not otherwise say in-person?

In the professional world there are two types of people:
1. Those who have an opinion
2. Those who play the game

The oldest trick in the bitter worker's playbook is to complain relentlessly from the bar stool then tuck their tale between their legs when entering the office. It is difficult to balance the line between productive disruption and complaining. We who possess courage can often be our own worst enemy.

How do we remove the clutter?

The Value of Validation
People just want to be loved. We've all got ideas (or at least most of us do) and we want them to be heard. The reason we get up and go to work is to make a difference.

If we start feeling we are insignificant we get desperate...then we act out of character....and we cannot return to the valued version of ourselves.

It is sad to think in terms of a life without meaning. Those tackling this conundrum may be masking their insecurity with a false sense of authority.

Kill Them With Kindness
It can be detrimental to one's character to accept that which you don't believe in. Compromise can be painful. There is more than one way to fight the machine.

Progress is seldom made if your opinions precede you. Action is far more important than talk. No matter how relevant your ideas, how you present them determines their level of adoption.

Learn to pick your battles and put your energy into solutions not discrepancies.

Don't Give Them An Excuse
Emotion is necessary. Control is paramount. You validate your critics when you allow your emotion to disrupt your character.

There are those who will tell you they did not experience success until they started breaking the rules. There is a science to breaking the rules without chastising yourself.

Take Action
* Do not voice a complaint without promising a better alternative.
* Promote positive change.
* Get to know your critics, they are all bark and no bite.
* Invest in people before you try to influence them.
* Keep your stripes well-hidden.
* Research every relationship.
* Choose your battles wisely.
* Choose your friends wisely.
* Don't fight what you cannot change.
* Don't engage people who wish to destroy you!
* Don't give up on people who are crying for help!

Ask yourself what you want out of life and pursue it with divine intent. Our time here is fleeting and we always remember our victories more than our losses.

We Can Do This.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, February 14, 2014

The Heart Matters More

"getting right to the heart of matters, its the heart that matters more" - Adam Duritz

For years I've been writing, speaking, coaching and consulting under the notion that faith is the divine principle of motivation. We all know that hope is not a strategy but trust still matters most. We now know what you eat, the bands you like and your favorite sports team. These personal preferences are being incorporated into workforce strategy to benefit from the momentum of personal branding.

Data doesn't tell the whole story... Don't believe me?

~ Why are fantasy football leagues won by people who hate football?
~ Are consumer impressions driven by product quality or promotional sex appeal?
~ How is it that the people with the best individual statistics don't win every game?

I'll tell you why.....

Numbers Lie!
With all due respect, most executives are totally out of touch with their workforce (see Undercover Boss). It's cool, organizational leaders have more important things to deal with than employee morale. Executive perception is an astronomically unfair and a totally unavoidable workforce sin.

You cannot judge 10 years of a person's performance by one encounter. But, if the CEO happens to be visiting your office while you are on a personal call - you're toast! You never get a second chance to make a first impression (especially when it comes to executive perception).

Organizational leaders don't know that you took on a task so your employee could get to her daughter's dance recital. You are a name on a spreadsheet.

You should incorporate a strategy to keep your name off the naughty list... it's not as hard as you think!    

Crowdsourcing is Stupid!
My literary prose is nothing to celebrate yet more people read this blog than more reputable publications. Glassdoor is the first source any new hire will visit before choosing your company. Yelp reviews are the talk of the town in any town.

What do the aforementioned resources have in common? Credibility is the exception.

Most people who write Glassdoor reviews are bitter many amazing new hires have been driven away by their comments? Yelp has become so watered-down that negative reviews actually intrigue surveyors to 'see for themselves'.

These systems can be gamed with very little effort. My blog, twitter, Glassdoor, Yelp.... make professionals out of amateurs. Why hire professionals when volunteers will create your content for free.

Personal Example: I am the third most-popular person at a 1000+ employee company (we have data to prove it) because I do back spins at company parties... I am not our third highest revenue producer.  

Faith Is A Strategy! 
Those at the top of the sales ranking reports are seldom the best examples of company culture. Your most popular employees are seldom your most productive.

The real facts:
* Micro-management is dead.
* Bureaucracy is fading.
* No one cares about past accomplishments.
* Average employee tenure is less than 36 months.
* Any dip shit can make decisions based on a spreadsheet.
* Your most deceitful employees know how to game your CRM!

Great leaders establish a belief system... there is no data needed, no spreadsheets are involved, and there is no guessing. We cannot quantify a managers effect on their employees through a spreadsheet: it is not a measure of popularity or results.

I don't have to tell my Dad I love him... he knows I do. But, I always tell him I love him before I ask him for money.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Our Three Audiences

2013 was the year of catapulting HR into the boardroom. The emphasis on employee engagement has been an organizational driver for several years. We are now seeing rewards and recognition become part of the performance management suite. The most prominent question being pondered in 2014 is:

Who Drives Engagement?

- Is it the employees in the trenches...who represent our culture...?
- Is it the Unit Managers...who manage performance directives?
- Is it the C-suite...whose words carry the most weight?
- Is it HR...the conduit to organizational sustainability?

Answer: all of the above!

In 2014, HR is called upon to understand the nuances of employee preferences, to partner with unit managers, and to sell organizational programs to the C-suite. All the while keeping the company out of court and formulating a road map to the future.

Good Luck!

The time of affiliating HR as an administrative service is over. Human Resources is tackling the elephant called succession planning within every nugget of the organization. If HR professionals are still feeling disrespected, it won't continue for long.

So... how can we possibly adapt our skill set to engage employees, help managers drive performance, and to explain to our Executives what is going to keep us in business?

The Rock Stars of Tomorrow
"Managers who manage by the clock are dangerously incompetent" - Rodd Wagner

The chain of command is devolving. Bottoms up organizational development is a bubbling groundswell. Many organizations are stressing over knowledge lost and the skills gap. The best way to amend what is leaving is to address what is here.

Organizations are flattening out. Abusive managers are being fired and sued. Employee's personal brands are more prominent than company logos. We have to be acutely aware of what our employees want and take action.

How are you gathering employee feedback?
How do you know this feedback is candid?
What does your change management strategy look like?

Don't Step On My Toes
In the past, unit managers came to HR to avoid lawsuits. Today, our partnership is much more strategic. We cannot wait for the shit to hit the fan before consulting HR. This partnership starts with hiring, continues through performance management, and feeds the off-boarding process.

No one likes anyone stepping into their sandbox. A partnership can exist between HR and unit managers that does not create a conflict of interest.

Managers are stressed for time. There is a hyper-focus on performance. A CEO will not ask a unit manager how his team's collective morale is holding up. Just show her the results!

Show Me the Dough
We're all tired of the "seat at the table" discussion. The reality is that many Executives have an adverse effect on engagement. John Stumpf's public letter in support of Wells Fargo's employee recognition programs showed he was a man who understood his employees. For every tuned-in CEO, there are thousands of organizational leaders who speak in framed terms. To them, employee engagement is an obligation not a belief system.

...CEOs want you to perform well...

No Executive can be in cafeteria every day. Their responsibility is keeping the board of directors happy by driving revenue.

If CEOs are too busy to monitor employee engagement they will empower Human Resources to drive organizational strategy.

What is needed:
1. Feedback from the trenches
2. A well-defined action plan
3. Mutual partnership with management
4. Statistics to forecast ROI

In 2014, I will be conducting 2 workshops and a web series that will help you workshop the enclosed content.

You're Welcome!

Don't Forget to Remember!