April 16, 2014

Anticipation vs responsiveness

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individuals and organizations still struggle with being proactive and preventing problems. My explanation comes by way of a saying I once wrote on a whiteboard in a co-worker’s cubicle when the powers-that-be in that organization were touting the virtues of responsiveness:

Responsiveness is required only by those who have failed to anticipate.

It’s easy to instruct others to be proactive, mostly because the virtues of being proactive are so intuitive. If you have a keen enough understanding of your environment, however, it becomes possible to predict what might happen and prevent the problem for arising. That, of course, necessitates that you actually have an understanding of your environment. [Read more]

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Five types of toys, and a lesson for the grown-ups

toys in a pile
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Like most parents, I buy my kids toys. I buy them mostly for Holidays and birthdays, and sometimes just because I can, and sometimes because I can’t listen to the begging any more, too. On top of that, there are the presents from other people, the junky things you get from Happy Meal boxes and the things they save up their allowance for, too.

Of course, the intrinsic value of the toy has nothing to do with the importance of that toy to the child. Through the years of watching my kids play with, discard, or completely ignore their toys, I have come to realize their toys fall into just a few categorie [Read more]

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It’s just a half glass of water.

glass of water
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The old question, “Is the glass half empty or half full?” draws the line between optimists and pessimists. Deciding if the glass is half empty or half full, however, is more about seeing the future, or believing that you can, than it is about seeing what’s right in front of you.

Why must the glass be on its way to gaining or losing? [Read more]

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Training and Education – What is the correct value for you?

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As Continuous Improvement practitioners, it is natural (even a passion) to always seek ways to improve ourselves and the value we drive to our colleagues and the companies for which we work. During our quest for this personal and professional development, sometimes we know precisely which areas we wish to improve our skillsets and where we need to concentrate our efforts, and sometimes we seek to satisfy a curiosity of some subject matter.

Once we decide on what we wish to learn, we need to decide on what level of knowledge and competency we wish to possess at the conclusion of our being taught and, most importantly, we need to ensure that the method we select for conveying of that knowledge and competency to us will yield those expected results. Therefore, during this evaluation process, we must always remember the following corollary; the level of effort required is directly proportional to the depth of the knowledge and competency acquired.

We must also evaluate the “Comparative Value” of the efforts and results, with Comparative Value being defined as; “the investment requirements associated with gaining the knowledge versus the benefit gained to oneself and one’s company.” [Read more]

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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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Pushing through disillusionment

Struggling Tree
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Achieving a goal is often just about working through the grind. There will be disappointments and more than enough rejection, and dejection to go around at times, however, that’s when determination comes in to play.

Humility is necessary, because when you fail, you have to recognize that it’s not everyone else who is wrong, short-sighted, stupid, ignorant or lazy. They simply have a point of view and a set of preferences, as well as maybe a few bad habits, that you haven’t yet figured out a way to overcome. The problem might not be with your message, but with your ability to deliver that message. Understand that there’s something in your ability that’s lacking, which is why you’re unable to penetrate theirs. [Read more]

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Delegating by capacity

overflowing
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Delegating is supposed to be about understanding the work flowing through your organization and then assigning that work based on skill sets and availability of the resources within your control. What I’ve experienced in far too many situations, however, is where delegating work takes place via a mechanism of “I am going to horde as much work for myself as I can and when I simply can’t do it all any more, I’ll leak out small bits of tasking for you to take care of.”
[Read more]

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The Easter Egg Hunt and perfectly normal disorganization

easter eggs
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Our small town up here in New Hampshire hosted an Easter Egg Hunt and, of course, with a couple hundred children between the ages of 2 and 10 milling about, things went along….well, let’s just say they went along.

The organizers of the event scurried to and fro to make amends for oversights and, since they were clearly working very hard to make the event enjoyable, no one was pointing a finger. The thing that I saw, that was truly bothersome to me, was the indifference and acceptance of such near-pandemonium as normal. It is that acceptance of disorganization as normal, [Read more]

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Career advice? Listen to yourself and believe in what you believe in.

Four Hands
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TweetI was approached by someone recently who was seeking some career advice.  Worn out by the politics of his current environment, he felt under appreciated and at serious risk of being put out to pasture, mostly for trying to do his best, yet misinterpreting the daily “bring me a rock” exercises. His questions clearly caused [...]

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More evidence of performance does not mean there is more performance

3D Pie Chart
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I have been on troubled teams who are often commanded to produce reams of data and documentation for their every move to date, forecast every move going forward, and track every movement against that plan in leghty detail. Once all this documentation is in place, the project appears to be much more organized and coordianted, however, overall performance rarely improves.

The moral: Documentation isn’t the solution to a performance problem. [Read more]

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