Friday, March 27, 2020
We are 2 weeks into a 12 week (?) isolation. Times are uncertain but words like transparency and candor are becoming commonplace. It's been refreshing. When you dig into what is genuinely important, the difference between partnership and product transaction starts to emerge. When we stop pretending to be on opposite sides of the table, trust gets us closer to genuine human development.
In times when things are undetermined, leadership is of paramount importance. I don't mean this in terms of pulpit speeches from CEOs; Leadership right now comes from the trenches. The importance of transformation is being driven by those who do not have elevated titles.... these are the people who will save companies.
When bravado is no longer an option, learning becomes a priority. The question is whether we can adopt these practices into our long term strategy.
It is somewhat startling that it takes a tragedy to pull common sense into business relationships. Conversation over the last two weeks has been rooted in human compassion:
What are you using that you don't need?
What are we missing strategically that we may have overlooked in the past?
How can we help?
Seems simple to raise such questions, but we tend to forget what genuinely propels us forward. Strategy needs to be the sum of that which make people's jobs easier. We need to forget the concentration on line items to survey the larger picture.
Technology has never been more important than it is in this very moment.....
We are pulling together virtually to measure critical project milestones. We are sharing information to help others get past hurdles that have held us up in the past. Our intranets are landing pads for everything that is essential to our organizational function at this moment in time.
THANK YOU are now the two most important words that can be texted, tweeted, emailed or shared in social technology. People everywhere are sharing stories of Human Success without being able to shake hands or hug those who have helped them triumph.
This too shall pass.... we'll be able to talk through business challenges in a room together at some point in the future. Until then, there is a need for quick fixes that will keep production moving forward.
And it sucks....
We wish we could see our work families. We wish we could gather in conference halls. We wish we could catch a plane to a sunny island to celebrate our hard work. That time will come but until then we need to document, track, visualize, create, expand and reward ourselves in a place where avatars replace faces and high fives look more like badges.
Inventory every piece of technology available to your employees and find a way to maximize purpose. I'll bet the practical process of applied intelligence will outlast the pain of isolation.....
Don't Forget to Remember,
Wednesday, March 18, 2020
We are concluding day 3 of mandated social distancing here in Northern California but it seems like it's been 3 months. Its been made apparent that this new style of existence may last for 3 months.... thus feeling as though we've been in the bunker for 90 years (don't check my math on that).
Our staff in the incubator exists of a sixth grader and an eight grader (adapting to virtual learning), my wife, my dog, my mother-in-law and I.... so if you are alone and feeling lonely in this time, you might want to reconsider your good fortune.
With virtual work we're (almost forced) to consume a greater degree of Social Media and Television transmission. I'd suggest implementing some personal controls to limit interaction with the aforementioned channels of (mis)information.
It might be 3 weeks or 3 months (hopefully not longer than that) but we'll emerge from this with some new habits. I'd bet we'll appreciate our families more. We'll find a new appreciation for our ability to solve business problems without having to drive hours to crowded offices. We'll also miss going to offices and the hugs from co-workers that provide some levity between meetings about meetings to talk about meetings. We may get better about limiting unnecessary communication. There may come an ability to consider the circumstance of each decision we make and to prioritize our time accordingly. We might stop caring so much about things that are out of our control. Maybe we'll stop allowing hatred to guide our ego and give in to Love. But mostly, we'll miss the hugs.
I'd assume most reading this live in a capitalist society that allows you to control your own destiny should you be willing to put the work in. So naturally, frustration will wash over us multiple times a day while shut away in our bunkers. This might prompt one to go onto social media and condemn others for trying to make a living (albeit amid a lack of sensitivity for the moment at hand). We may want to curse politicians (in-office or awaiting election). We'll get into our cars and yell at other drivers. Maybe we'll find a bottle to release our frustration that will only fuel our anxiety. We might forget about our elderly parents while locked in debate with @bootyshaker2006. This too, I would advise against.
Indeed, our desire to control what we cannot may give way to a need to revisit that which we know to be universally true....
In his remarkable 2013 South By Southwest keynote, Dave Grohl reflected on a time of sleeping on floors and on stages and on floors underneath stages. Recalling this venture through a slumdog existence with complete joy. He was dirty and uncomfortable and the future was uncertain but he was free.
Mr Bruce Springsteen recalled his family fleeing to the west coast leaving him a teenager alone in his home town. The page was completely blank, everything was uncertain, there was nothing but opportunity in front of him...... It was his to explore.
David Foster Wallace explained to Kenyon College's class of 1995 that the most important choice they had in-front of them was the choice of that which they chose to worship. Advice without entitlement left to ponder before he left the world.
The unlikely Icon, Rodney Mullen spent his life hell-bent in the pursuit of perfection (only to achieve it twice).
Coach Jim Valvano reminded us to laugh, think and cry.... every day.
Then there was the guy who climbed a 3,000 vertical surface without a rope.
We've heard world leaders make bold statements with promises of action in times like these that helped us pull up our boot straps. There are pre-game speeches from coaches leading their teams into what seemed certain defeat only to propel them to victory. There are scenes from movies that inspire our spirits to tears. There are songs that fill the air and set time into complete neutrality.
.... and you can access it all without having to leave the bunker.
Turn off the news. Shut down the lap top. Go find what really matters.
Don't Forget to Remember!
Monday, March 16, 2020
It's day one of social distancing and we're still getting used to tribal isolation. My children will be e-learning their curriculum over the next two weeks so to break up the monotony I advised my son to take a look at the video content below. You might like to check them out as well.........
Rodney Mullen - TED talk - https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Greta Thunberg - TED talk - https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Dave Grohl - SXSW Keynote - https://www.youtube.com/watch?
David Foster Wallace - Commencement Speech - https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Laird Hamilton - Greatest Ride Ever - https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Inconoclasts - Sean Penn and John Krakaur - https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Everybody's free to wear sunscreen - https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Kate Tempest - Peoples Faces - https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Jim Valvano - 1993 Espys - https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Until next time...
Don't Forget to Remember,
Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Paranoia, uncertainty, and maybe a bit of loneliness are all turns of phrase to characterize the current state of work. With the fear of disease front of mind, companies have been forced to separate their workforce. For one who espouses Employee Engagement and Cultural Development for a living, you would think this a dark time. As ever, we adapt and move forward. The Coronavirius-forced work-from-home mandate could serve as an interesting experiment to test mobile work. We are not encouraged to shake hands and company events are being put on-hold so there's never been a better time for virtual collaboration.
Say 1,200 people have shut their desk drawers and will be working from home for a month. The experience of recapping a ballgame or the Bachelor with co-workers certainly has to be replaced. You'll find the inability to walk to someone's desk to ask for an update on the project timeline to be equally disenchanting. As we slog through the imperfect separation, we need a way to stay connected.
After a long day of emails, texts and conference calls why not jump over to your company's internal social space to thank a colleague or two? There is nothing like a Thank You to provide the end of day dopamine release and it serves as a healthy alternative to happy hour.
- Badging (Project/Training completion)
- Milestone Celebration (Birthdays, Service Anniversary)
- Manager discretionary rewards
- Peer to Peer interaction
You've been on conference calls since 6am, take a break to walk your dog. Try taking that e-learning course from your Peloton. Mixing a smoothie in your kitchen sure does taste better than cafeteria food.
If we can begin to observe healthy interludes from home, maybe we can carry them back to the workplace when the doors re-open.
- Renewed focus on clean work environments
- Reminders to wash hands
- Steps challenges
- Mental health breaks
- Calorie monitoring
- Sleep monitoring
Your conference rooms may be replaced by chat rooms temporarily but that should not stall progress. A good collaboration system will allow employees to share ideas, construct rule changes and like/share the input of others.
Suddenly the isolation has given way to a whole new connectivity afforded through the use of programs that have always been there for us but might not have been fully adopted.
- Idea sharing (approved and adopted)
- Article editing (sharing beneficial best practices)
- Process improvement (documentation of issue resolution)
- Social feed for morale boosting
Replace your cultural affirmation by engaging with others systematically. It might not be perfect but for now it's all we've got.
Don't Forget to Remember,