April 23, 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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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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Delegating by capacity

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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.”
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The Easter Egg Hunt and perfectly normal disorganization

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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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The height of disrespect for people: A UK Healthcare nightmare

The_Doctor_will_SEE_you_now_by_DaYDid
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I came across this lengthy article from The UK’s Daily Mail detailing the nightmarish conditions at Staffordshire Hospital, where it is reported that between 2005 and 2008 as many as 1,200 patients died needlessly due to appalling conditions and neglect.

Keep those dates in mind – this is current. The events described in the article did not happen in some long-forgotten past or in a third-world hell hole. This scandal is unfolding, right now, in one of the most developed nations on earth. If you want to know just how far an organization can stray from the Respect for People ideal that lies at the root of Lean and Operational Excellence, forget Foxconn and look at the UK’s NHS.
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In the age of engagement, you can’t thwart ambition

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There are more articles, books and posting out there on engagement, creating engagement, the benefits of creating engagement, and so on than I can count. So, of course, I’m going to write a post about engagement (Once in a while, I do like to suppress my contrarian urges and go along with the crowd). Instead of yet another voice telling you how to generate engagement, however, here’s a tale of how to make sure it gets utterly destroyed. [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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Well, OF COURSE no one trusts management…..

Backstabber_by_bat_bat
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In a conversation with a seasoned manager who asked me why I believed morale was so poor in his organization, I stated that the thing most often heard wafting through the cubicles was that people simply don’t trust the management here. “Well, that’s universal.” he stated, and quickly dismissed the concerns people were uttering as just usual, typical, workplace angst.

Upon reflection, however, I realized that this problem was born from different perspectives on management’s role among the age groups in the organization.
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Stump the Chump, and the Steve Jobs Paradox?

Paradox
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I was asked a question that – as I put it, “Stumped the Chump.” One gentleman asked, in response to the portions of my presentation that focused on the Respect for People foundation of Lean and, in particular, the Shingo model, how I would characterize Steve Jobs and Apple’s success, given that Jobs was a well-known egomaniac and had a reputation for being quite stern and non-compromising.

it has stuck with me for the past couple of weeks, as I felt the need to contemplate the question a bit further. What I may have come to realize, is that there is something of a Paradox involved when a true visionary ascends to the position of influence within an organization.
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