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Archive for December, 2007

Happy Holiday to you!

Tuesday, December 25th, 2007

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I wish you a Christmas alive with love and laughter

and may 2008 be filled to the brim with

health, happiness, wealth and satisfaction!!!

Holiday wishes for you

Tuesday, December 25th, 2007

riendeer1.jpg

I wish you a day full of

love and laughter

and may 2008 be filled to the brim with

health, happiness, wealth and satisfaction!!!

Corporate culture: who said the British are staid?

Monday, December 24th, 2007

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We hear all the time about the nightly drinking requirements in Japanese corporate culture, but the image most of us have of British business is one of dark suits and furled umbrellas.

The traditional British office party offers up a vastly different image—definitely not a role model.

Dixie Dean, an emergency care specialist with the London Ambulance Service, compared the Christmas season in Britain to New Year’s Eve in New York — except that here, the binges run nightly for two solid weeks leading up to Dec. 25… Gill said American companies based in England are a bit “more concerned about litigation” arising from boozing at late-night Christmas celebrations and typically shut down their parties at 9 p.m…

This month, Prime Minister Gordon Brown convened a summit meeting on binge drinking at his office.

But, despite the warnings, many in Britain are standing up for parties with an almost patriotic vigor. As one enthusiastic commentator on “Comment is free,” the popular forum on the Guardian Unlimited Web site, recently noted, “Projectile vomiting is our birthright.”

Fewer companies seem to be holding parties at the office, going along with a recommendation by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, which has noted a number of Christmas party injuries related to office furniture and machinery.

“Meeting room tables were designed for weighty documents, not overweight executives dancing,” said Jo Stagg, a society spokeswoman.

She noted that partygoers seem to find great amusement in photocopying intimate body parts. Stagg recalled one incident in which a man at his Christmas party sat on the copy machine, broke the glass and ended up in the emergency room with shards of glass in his bottom.

What’s the wildest thing that you’ve seen/done at an office party?

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What leaders (shouldn't) DO: procrastinate

Monday, December 24th, 2007

Accounting $olver offers up a nice present that reminded me of one I’ve given to the occasional recalcitrant client over the years. So I thought I’d be a copycat and regift you with my version of the infamous round tuit.

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Use it sparingly and only on the passionless stuff in your life!

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What leaders DO: focus—or not

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

Steve Mann (who sounds like a whole lot of fun to hang with) comments on Bruce Nussbaum’s list of five innovation killers. Good list, good comments, but, in fact the list applies to far more than innovation—hypercritical as that is.

focus.jpgCEO sloth. There’s no pretty word for failure to focus on innovation by top management. Every major innovation index, including the new one coming out by Business Week in 08, shows significantly higher rates of return for companies that innovate. Yet CEO’s consistently mouth the word without providing the leadership and resources to make it happen. CEOs need to make the time to lead the innovation movement in their companies.

There’s no pretty word for failing to focus, period. The same thing can happen to any new initiative. It’s a cinch to implement new stuff if you keep it isolated, which eliminates the need for change throughout the organization. Too often CEO’s range from ostriches, clueless to what’s critical because of ignorance, fear, or ego to lip service that talks fluently to analysts and investors, but barely limps when it comes to execution.

Adding, not transforming. Most corporations today will allow innovation to be added to their structure. They will add a new innovation pipeline, a new social networking process, a new customer focus group, a new product or service. But companies usually don’t scale or leverage the innovation to transform the entire corporate culture–so the innovation remains isolated. In the end, the old pushes back and erodes the new, the best talent leaves, and managers wonder why innovation doesn’t work.

The same thing can happen to any new initiative. It’s a cinch to implement new stuff if you keep it isolated, which eliminates the need for change throughout the organization—the road to failure is paved with silos.

Choosing Metrics over talent. You must run a global corporation with a system of metrics in place. But measuring efficiency doesn’t make a company creative. You need talented people for that. Creative talent is rare in business culture. B-Schools are only beginning to produce them. Getting your efficiency metrics grid down is critical to success but doesn’t guarantee it anymore. Swimming in the global talent pool to get creative people for your company is just as critical to success today.

Creative talent is rare, period. Measuring it is almost impossible. As with leadership, creativity is usually recognized after the fact. You can hire the most-proven talent in the world, but they won’t produce in an environment that doesn’t support and nurture them.

Failing to use design thinking strategically. Most companies employ innovation and design consultancies at the midlevel to foster culture change. That underestimates the power of design thinking to guide companies through this unusual period of constant and unexpected change. Innovation consultants and coaches should be used at the top of the executive pyramid.

Until about 30 years ago, quality was done at the end of the manufacturing process; quality checks and testing came after the product had been built. Now quality is an active part of the initial architecture/development. Design needs to make the same jump now, not in a decade or so.

Underestimating Crisis. We don’t live in a world of change, we live in a world of crisis. It’s “change” on steroids” and its impact on us is greater than at any other time in a century. We are living through an energy crisis, a technology crisis, a political crisis, an economic crisis, a food crisis, a demographic crisis, a terrorist crisis–all overlapping and happening at the same time. How to manage in constant crisis mode is the critical management problem of our era.

Perfectly stated. And playing ostrich or running in circles saying ‘woe is me’ or ‘it’s not our fault’ isn’t going to cut it as a solution.

Have you worked with management that does some or all of these points well?  Or worse?

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Age—it’s all in your mind

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

Speaking yesterday about the fight over Web 2.0, it’s often perceived as a generational fight, but I think that’s too simple a view.

Fred Allen said “The old believe everything; the middle aged suspect everything; the young know everything.”

The first two are still true, except that age in the Twenty-first Century is defined by MAP (mindset, attitude, philosophy™), rather than chronology—in other words, it’s not the calendar, but the way you think that counts.

The third, however, hasn’t changed since caveman days.

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What ‘age’ are you? How well do the people you know fit their calendar age?

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Culture, Web 2.0 and VSI

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007

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There’s a lot of talk about integrating Web 2.0 technology into corporate culture, since the integration often involves substantial cultural upheaval.

Jane McConnell quotes Stephan Schillerwein, from Schillerwein Net Consulting,

“Social media in the corporate context: lessons learnt at BT” Richard Dennison, Internal Programme Manager at British Telecom presented the impressive transition BT has made towards becoming an Enterprise full case is available on Richard’s blog, here are some major points: 2.0. While the

how to get people out of their routine and into acting and thinking in new (social) ways? As changing the corporate culture in such a big company is nothing short of impossible, the benefits of the new ways (and tools) have to be so evident and convincing that people start using them out of self interest and thus adapt step by little step (think evolution, not revolution). But also the demonstrated will of the company to re-invent itself was an important factor at BT.

Yes, BT was a willing partner, but it’s vested self-interest that really makes it happen!

What do you think? Are you more flexible or willing when you benefit?

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15 executive attitudes

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007

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In this age of “personalized customer experience,” it figures that there would be a special place for job seekers who earn more than $100K and there is— ex-HotJobs.com executive Marc Cenedella founded TheLadders.com in 2003. Although the results of their 2004-2007 executive survey highlights on life, love and money are fascinating on their own, I couldn’t resist adding a few comments.

  1. When it comes to MBA, 57% of executives said the advanced degree is nice, but not necessary in the real world. I wonder how many have one?
  2. 61% of executives said it was Spanish, followed by 16% who chose Chinese.
  3. On stock options, 32.5% said stock options are an integral component to a pay package; 24.9% would prefer more cash; and 20.5% said options are “gravy” but not a big motivator. If they’re not a big motivator why do so many fudge to get more?
  4. 70% of executives said the prospect of an overseas assignment would be an exciting opportunity.
  5. 75% of executives surveyed said physical fitness is critical for career success at the executive level. I’d say that applies to any level (or just plain living), but I sure see a lot of hefty execs (except in California).
  6. On office romance, 68% of executives said they’ve harbored secret crushes on their co-workers; 17% confess to having inter-office affairs. (how many are lying? Hehe)
  7. On power dressing, 79.1% of executives said they prefer to wear either business casual or outright casual attire for work and another 62% said that business casual is now standard office dress code.
  8. On family, 62% of men in the country’s top income bracket said they would put their careers on hold to become stay-at-home dads. (really???) LOL/ROF
  9. Work or vacation? 79% of executives planned to take a vacation in 2007 and few of them planned to stay connected to the office. 51% said they’d check in once or twice and 34.5% said they wouldn’t check once.
  10. On glass ceiling, 72% of executives said men get paid more than women for the same work, and 66.3% said women do not have as many opportunities as men to become company CEOs. I wonder what planet the rest work on.
  11. On age discrimination, 69% of executives said they’ve fallen victim to age discrimination, yet 51% said they plan to continue working after “retirement.”
  12. On job loyalty, 52% of executives in the $100k+ job market said they actively search new job listings at work. Can’t really blame them considering the average CEO tenure is only 44 months.
  13. On religion in office, it depends on where you live: 44% of executives from “Red States” said religion does belong in the workplace, while just 24% of their “Blue State” counterparts agreed.
  14. 89.2% of executives said it is a company’s duty to be socially responsible, and 87.3% said they would not work for a company that had a reputation for negative social responsibility. Wow! There are either a lot of execs not working or “negative social responsibility” has a more flexible definition than I’d realized.
  15. On biggest holiday mistake, drinking too much alcohol is the number one mistake, according to 79% of executives; flirting with co-workers ranks second with 53% of the vote; followed by dirty dancing (42%) and inappropriate outfits (41%). I wonder if they mean their staff or themselves?

The results of each survey are statistically significant; detailed results and margins of error for each question are available upon request.

What do you think? Were they honest? Do the execs you know walk this talk?

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Leaders last minute gifts

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007

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If we could sell our experiences for what they cost us we’d be millionaires. — Abigail Van Buren

Experience—probably the best gift you can either give or receive. Just remember,

  • when you give the wisdom that comes from experience don’t try to cram it down someone’s throat. Talk about the experience, discuss what you learned from it, listen to the response—you’ll both learn something;

and

  • when you receive it learn to see even the worst assignment or event as an opportunity to gain new skills and/or improve the ones you already have.

In what ways has experience affected you?

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Leaders of strength and grace

Friday, December 21st, 2007

I have a friend whose preferred reading involves “grace under pressure” and another who reads/watches anything spotlighting “strength of character.”

I think they go hand-in-hand—strength of character may be visible in many different acts, but without it, I doubt anybody would demonstrate much grace when adversity strikes.

Lee Thomas is such a person.

Thomas, who is an anchor and entertainment reporter for a Fox Broadcasting Company affiliate and is black, suffers from Vitiligo, a disorder in which pigment-making cells are destroyed and white patches appear on different parts of the body, tissues in the mouth and nose, and the retina—the same disease that Michael Jackson has.

“There is no cause. There is no cure, and it’s very random. I could turn all the way white or mostly white.”

He openly talks about vitiligo and how it has affected his life and career, and has written a book about his journey titled Turning White: A Memoir of Change. Along the way, Thomas says he’s met others with the disorder and has become a celebrity spokesman for the Columbus, Ohio-based National Vitiligo Foundation.

It’s not fatal, but experts say vitiligo robs people of self-confidence, evokes ridicule and unpleasant stares, and pushes some into unforced seclusion…Vitiligo attacks the soul and psyche, foundation executive director Robert Haas says.

Thomas was diagnosed at age 25, but by using makeup he was able to keep the condition a secret.

He didn’t let it slow down his blossoming career. …Thomas found his way to WJBK in Detroit in 1997. He has carved a niche in the Motor City market with his quirky, upbeat and humorous reporting style; his confidence, constant smile and positive air on the set mirrors his demeanor off the set as well.

Even though Thomas uses makeup to conceal his skin discoloration, he realized the vitiligo was becoming more obvious when he couldn’t hide it from a preschooler during a story about a playground. His two-toned hands frightened the girl, who began to cry.

“I thought my career was over,” says the Emmy award winner who routinely travels to Hollywood for one-on-one interviews with celebrities including Will Smith, Tom Cruise and Halle Berry.

So he gathered himself one day and approached the station’s news director, prepared to walk away from television.

“She said, ‘Let’s just see what happens,”‘ Thomas recalls. “As it got worse, she kept encouraging me to tell my story.”

Thomas did tell it in 2005 and received overwhelming support from viewers.

“As all those things happened, the tone of the book changed. I was writing for all those people who were afraid to come outside… Having this disease forces me to focus on what I am: kind, caring, honest.”

Strength of character and grace under pressure—whether large or small—are uplifting to behold.

Who do you think exemplifies these traits? Tell me about your own experiences of “grace under pressure.”

Comments—priceless

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