July 25, 2014

If the student has not learned, the teacher has not taught

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For all of us with children, we understand that each of our kids understand things in their own way and, to complicate things, the way they absorb information tends to change slightly as they develop.

As business professionals, however, we tend to ignore learning styles and simply dump information into emails, shared workspaces, and whiteboards expecting everyone else to understand our words and our intent. The worst of us will then proclaim that anyone who doesn’t understand simply isn’t qualified for their position. Sometimes this goes all the way to the point of exercising hiring/firing authority to simply dismiss people who don’t see the world according to the same point of view, or not hiring them in the first place. [Read more]

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If passionate, failure firms resolve

Don Quixote
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There’s a lot said about the need to invoke people’s passions in the workplace. I don’t think it happens nearly as often as it should, since for the vast majority, employment is not about passion – it’s about income. Nonetheless, it’s at least intuitively obvious that having people who don’t just enjoy what they do, but believe in its importance, is a good thing. [Read more]

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Stump the chump and the art of accountability

business relationships teams friends
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This past Thursday night I delivered a presentation on understanding the 7 Wastes of Lean and how they are manifested in project management. It was the largest gathering I’ve spoken to yet, and presented some interesting audience dynamics that were far different from when I presented the same topic to about 50-60 people at the New Hampshire chapter. Overall, the presentation was fairly well received, however, and I think I delivered my point. It was good speaking experience and gives me some time to reflect on how to work a larger room. At the end of the presentation, a question was asked of me by an audience member: “How do you make people accountable?”

I won’t bore people with the usual rhetoric: Approach the sponsor for additional support, lay out ground rules for the project team, establish tasks and task owners. Those things are fairly simple and rely on utilizing tools rather than getting down into core people-centered concepts. My best advice, then, is this:

Make friends. [Read more]

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Follow up: Why Lunch & Learn is not for everyone

lonely_lady_loves_lunch_by_emohoc
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Last time out, my post on why I dislike the practice of Lunch & Learns drew quite a few visitors to the site, and a small handful of comments on reddit.

One comment, in particular, stuck out in my mind. Reddit user: “CivilDiscussions” wrote:

You sound like quite the slacker. In the real world, we have lunch meetings all the time. Lunch isn’t guaranteed to be “your time”

Now THAT is a fascinating take [Read more]

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Managing the complex organization

Traffic Pro
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Teams in simple environments are more able to “manage” themselves – which means they are able to organize their own activities and determine how to go about their work, assigning tasks to each person within the team. Disputes are resolved, ideas are discussed, actions are taken. All of which is to say that these teams, perhaps, don’t “manage” themselves – but, rather, that they lead themselves. Managing is, of necessity, a bureaucratic and dogmatic process. Coordinating the activities of a group of teams, especially as an organization grows increasingly complex, requires someone to help all those teams get organized. In other words, someone must manage the interactions. [Read more]

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You can’t buy pride (and I just like to write)

Writer
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Many times, I have been asked with regards to this blog, “What do you expect to et out of this?”

Well, fame, fortune, world-wide recognition for being an intellectual genius, a great job, tons of friends, an awesome new car, my kids’ college tuitions paid for and a bottomless glass of beer would be nice.

Unfortunately, as much as I can dream, I don’t actually think I’ll get those things (at least, not all of them). So what do I honestly expect?

Writing this blog is, sort of, its own end. Yes, I’d love to have achieved all these wonderful things as a result of my writing, and maybe I will. However, even if I don’t – I will keep writing. Because it’s the one thing that comes easily and naturally, and that people seem to tell me I’m pretty good at.

[Read more]

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I’d like to thank my dog for running away, and the opportunity to think things over

English Setter running
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Friday evening my 7-year-old accidentally left the gate open and our 2 dogs took off into the neghborhood. Neither I nor my son saw them go out, and a neighbor alerted us to the fact the dogs were a ways off from the house, running along the bike path that is next to our property. I spent the next 3 hours walking through the woods, and all over the neighborhood, going many miles in the hopes of catching a glimpse of him but with so many wooded areas between homes and a large, swampy meadow as well, there were just oo many places for him to get off to. I was well aware of how exhausted I was becoming, the blister emerging on my foot, the sharp pain and tightness that was creeping up my back and the incredible soreness that was gripping my legs – but all that time walking around gave me time to think about things that have been on my mind lately. [Read more]

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It’s all in how you look at it – current state to ideal state

A_Change_of_Perspective_by_kuschelirmel
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within all the reasons why a process can’t be changed, won’t be changed, or why it did not work last time lies a vital component necessary for overall improvement to begin – a definition of the current state. What all those protestations are giving us is the perception of the current state that is held by the people who are living with whatever process, as suboptimal or utterly broken as it may be.

What the person sees is their reality. A reality where both people and things don’t work. What they are sharing, when they complain, is their knowledge of the way things really work around here. When improvement concepts are introduced, they tend to take the tone of “Here’s the way things can or should work around here.” When poorly introduced, the new ideas sound condescending at best, and threatening at worst. What those ideas represent, however, is the ideal state – the concept of the way things should work, even if we don’t know how to get from here to there.

So, how to overcome the reluctance and resistance? [Read more]

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Let’s all stop being professional, a rhino’s tale

The giant rhino monster
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Every time someone with enough rank and a title granting them authority starts to screw up, behave in a foolish or terrible manner, or speak like a fool – we are told that we shouldn’t address the issue because “That wouldn’t be professional.” So, since being professional prevents us from acknowledging there are problems, let’s make a conscious decision to be profoundly un-professional.

What’s at work here is the manifestation of fear. Fear that if I point out there’s an 80,000 pound rhinoceros in the room, someone will make my life difficult, or I’ll lose my job altogether. Which is silly, because the rhinoceros is obvious and it stinks to high heaven. [Read more]

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The weekly rewind

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A look back at some articles that caught my eye:
[Read more]

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